WHEATLAND - Prosecutors today charged a man with murdering his three children and his brother, and attempting to kill his wife during an attack at his home.
Everett Conant III, 35, faces four counts of first-degree murder and one charge of attempt murder in connection with the Thursday evening shooting.
Authorities did not release the names or ages of the children during a press conference this morning in Wheatland. Conant's brother was identified as Nacuma Conant.
Wheatland police went to a home on the 700 block of Oak Street Thursday evening in response to a 911 call, said Chief Randy Chesser. When they arrived, they saw Conant's wife screaming as she ran down the street.
A police officer was attempting to make contact with someone inside the home when he heard a gunshot from inside the residence. When he was joined by Platte County sheriff's deputies, the officers breached the door.
Officers heard Conant talking inside the home. They spoke with him for 10 minutes before he surrendered without incident.
He was not armed, police said.
Officers found the bodies of the three children inside the home. They also discovered Conant's wounded brother and began live-saving measures.
He died later at a hospital.
Authorities said Conant's wife, Suzette, was shot in her shoulder and leg. A woman with that name was listed in good condition today at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, said hospital spokesman James Watson.
Liz Copper was painting a trailer a few homes away from Conant's residence Thursday evening when she heard two pops, followed by screams, she said Friday. Then she heard the sound of rapid firing, as if black cat fireworks had been set off.
After a period of silence, Copper said she saw a bleeding woman burst out of Conant's home. A man carrying two pistols then appeared in the doorway. The man released the clips from the guns and reloaded.
At that moment, Copper heard sirens and then saw the man go back in the house.
"That's probably what saved her, honest to God," she said.
Neighbor Jessica Kornder said she was cooking dinner about 6 p.m. when she heard two loud pops. At first, she though they were fireworks. Then she heard a scream like nothing she had heard before.
Kornder ran outside and saw Conant's wife against a fence post, bleeding from wounds to her shoulder and foot.
"She kept looking at me and saying, ‘He shot my babies, he shot my babies,'" Kornder said.
Kornder said the three boys who were killed would play with her children. She saw one of the boys entering his home Thursday evening and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
Syndi Austin, another neighbor, described Everett Conant as a bitter, moody man who kept to himself. Butch, as he was known in the neighborhood, seemed insecure about his difficulties holding down a job.
"I think maybe his sense of manhood was challenged," Austin said.
On one occasion, Austin said a neighborhood boy walked by Conant's house when Butch was out front with his dogs. When the boy passed by, Conant let go of the leashes and dogs attacked the boy, she claimed.
Everett Conant's brother would often come by, she added. She described him as a buffer between Butch and the rest of the family.
Chesser told reporters he didn't know what kind of gun was used in the shooting and whether it had been recovered.
Police said they have no records of prior activity at the home.
Conant is being held at Platte County Detention Center. Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Jones said authorities haven't decided on how they will charge the suspect.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is assisting with the case.
The public defender's office will represent Conant, but his specific attorney hadn't been selected as of early this afternoon, said Penelope Helms, a legal assistant for the Public Defender's Office in Douglas.
The killings come less than a month after 22-year-old Christopher Walker was shot to death in an alley near a Wheatland bar. Jesus A. Gonzalez-Ochoa, 27, has been arrested in connection with killing.
Before Walker's killing, Wheatland had gone nine years without a homicide.
"We go years and years and years and nothing like this happens," said Wheatland Mayor Jean Dixon. "And then you wonder why this little community, when we do seem so close."