CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Supporters are lining up behind an Alabama father charged with killing the man who went to prison for molesting his daughter more than a decade ago, but a man who came face-to-face with the alleged gunman said Tuesday the shooter doesn't deserve any praise.
A Facebook site created to show support for the man had more than 950 members within hours of its creation, and donors gave more than $350 on another website to help fund his legal defense. Jason Lackey, a longtime friend of the alleged shooter, contributed $150.
"The guy was guilty of raping his little girl, and I guess he dealt with it for 12 years and it just built up," said Lackey, who has a recreational vehicle business in Cullman. "I won't say (he) had the right to go murder him, but I understand when he did."
The Associated Press doesn't identify victims of sex crimes, and it isn't naming the man charged with murder to protect his daughter's identity.
The father is charged with murder in the slaying of Raymond Earl Brooks, 59, a registered sex offender who was fatally shot on Sunday outside the rural home where he lived with his parents. Brooks pleaded guilty to sexually abusing the man's daughter in 2002, and the Alabama Department of Corrections said Brooks served 27 months of a five-year prison term before being released early in February 2005.
The father also is charged with opening fire on a stepdaughter's boyfriend outside a convenience store moments before the slaying.
Mike Hays, who cooks and operates a small barbecue restaurant inside Berlin Plaza Quick Stop, where the shooting occurred, said he came face-to-face with the shooter after the man opened fire outside and then entered the store looking for his intended victim, who wasn't hurt.
"People here are calling him a hero for killing a child molester. I'm calling him a psychopathic lunatic for endangering peoples' lives, including mine," Hays said.
After stopping his motorcycle at an intersection outside the store, the father fired once at a man who was standing beside an ice cooler, Hays said. The bullet entered an exterior wall of the store and chipped a window but no one was injured.
Hays said he retrieved his own weapon and confronted the gunman near the cash register.
"He had the gun down by his side. He was calm, as calm as you are standing there now. But he had that look in his eye," said Hays. "I have no problem with him shooting a child molester, just not 12 years later. If it was my daughter he would have died back in 2002."
Brooks' father, Ralph Brooks, told WBRC-TV in Birmingham that his son did not deserve to die. He said Raymond Earl Brooks turned his life around after his conviction and lived a godly life that included being active in his church. Because his son's conviction happened so long ago, he said he couldn't be sure if the shooting was a form of revenge.
"It would be unbelievable to hold animosity in your heart for 12 years," Brooks said.
A person who answered the door at the Brooks' home Tuesday told an Associated Press reporter the family was making funeral arrangements and was not available to comment immediately.
Lackey said he was told by a relative that the shootings followed a family argument over the stepdaughter's boyfriend that grew heated enough to include a reference to the sexual abuse case from years before.
"I'm 100 percent behind him," Lackey said.