Affidavit: Alleged Knox shooter wanted to scare friend with shotgunBryant reportedly tells police, 'I shoulda checked it'
Knox — The Knox teen charged with manslaughter in the Feb. 19 shooting death of his friend told police he wanted to scare Tyler Seaney by "dry-firing" a shotgun at him, according to an affidavit filed in connection with the case.
Luke Bryant, 19, was arrested shortly before 4 p.m. on Feb. 23 at a house he was visiting in Belfast, according to a press release from Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland.
As of Feb. 24, Bryant was still being held at Waldo County Jail in Belfast. His bail, according to a jail official, has been set at $250,000 and is cash-only.
The affidavit filed by Maine State Police Detective Jason Andrews details what reportedly happened at a Dolloff Road residence in Knox on the evening of Feb. 19, based on what police officers saw at the scene and what they learned from interviewing Bryant and another individual who was inside the residence at the time of the shooting.
In the course of several interviews with police, Bryant apparently changed his story of what exactly happened that night. In initial interviews, according to the affidavit, he reportedly said he was trying to clear a jam out of the shotgun and said he accidentally pulled the trigger.
In a later interview, though, according to the affidavit, Bryant reportedly told police that he was "dry-firing" — pulling the trigger on an unloaded gun — the weapon because he wanted to scare Seaney.
Shortly before 7 p.m. Feb. 19, according to the affidavit, Waldo County Regional Communications Center received a 911 call from Bryant, who said he had accidentally shot his friend Seaney, who was also 19 years old, with a shotgun.
Sgt. Dale Brown of the Waldo County Sheriff's Office was the first officer at the scene, according to the affidavit, and when he arrived at around 7:10 p.m. he observed Bryant in the process of performing CPR on Seaney.
Deputy Nick Oettinger arrived shortly after Brown and reportedly saw a Mossberg Model 500-A, 12-gauge shotgun in the residence. According to the affidavit, Oettinger "made [the weapon] safe by racking the slide."
"When he racked the slide one spent shotgun casing ejected," the affidavit states. "Dep. Oettinger then racked the slide again and discharged a live shotgun shell from the gun."
When Unity Ambulance personnel arrived at the residence after police officers secured the scene, according to the affidavit, they pronounced Seaney dead at the scene. An autopsy performed by the Maine Medical Examiner's Office on Feb. 21 revealed Seaney died as the result of a "gunshot wound to the neck,"according to McCausland's press release.
Detective Jason Bosco of the Waldo County Sheriff's Office arrived at the Dolloff Road scene next and spoke with both Bryant and a 17-year-old girl who was at the residence when the shooting occurred, according to the affidavit.
The girl reportedly told Bosco that Bryant and Seaney "liked to play a game which entailed them pointing guns at one another," and said the "purpose of the game was to scare each other."
Bryant reportedly admitted to having played the game described by the girl, but he said the game was "limited to other firearms and it excluded the shotgun," according to the affidavit.
In that initial interview, Bryant reportedly told Bosco he accidentally pulled the trigger on the shotgun while trying to clear what he thought was a jam out of the gun. The affidavit states that Bryant told Bosco the shotgun went off as Seaney was exiting the bathroom.
The 17-year-old girl later spoke with Maine State Police Detective Christopher Tremblay, according to the affidavit, and she reportedly told him that just after she heard a bang, Bryant had run down a hallway to where she was and said to her, after calling her by name, "You gotta come here, I'm sorry, I didn't know it was loaded."
During a video walk-through of the residence with Andrews and Bosco, Bryant reportedly said he was in the kitchen and holding the shotgun about chest-high, parallel to the ground.
"Luke [Bryant] explained the shotgun was pointed at the bathroom door, where he knew his friend, Tyler [Seaney], was at the time," Andrews wrote in his affidavit.
Bryant reportedly told the two detectives "somehow his finger entered the trigger guard area of the shotgun" and said he accidentally pulled the trigger. According to the affidavit, Bryant denied he was playing the game described by the 17-year-old and further said he was not trying to scare Seaney. In another interview with Andrews and Bosco three days later, however, Bryant allegedly told police a different story.
"During this interview, Luke [Bryant] told us that on Saturday, February 19th he had intentionally grabbed the shotgun and was waiting on the other side of the bathroom door to scare Tyler [Seaney] as he exited the bathroom," Andrews wrote in his affidavit.
It was during this interview Bryant reportedly told the detectives he was "attempting to dry-fire the gun," and he described dry-firing as pulling the trigger on an unloaded gun, which would still cause the trigger to make an audible clicking sound without the weapon firing.
Bryant, according to the affidavit, told the detectives, "I shoulda checked it," referring to the shotgun. In that Feb. 22 interview, Bryant also reportedly told police why he was attempting to scare Seaney.
"Luke [Bryant] admitted that he was attempting to get Tyler [Seaney] back for something that Tyler [Seaney] had done to him earlier in the day," Andrews wrote in his affidavit. "Luke [Bryant] explained that earlier in the day Tyler [Seaney] had scared him by shooting him in the leg with an Airsoft gun."
According to the website AirSplat.com, which bills itself as the nation's largest Airsoft retailer, "Airsoft is an informal term in reference to BB guns that use plastic BB's larger than the common BB's sold in local sporting goods stores which are 6mm in circumference."
The criminal complaint filed in connection with the case charges Bryant "did recklessly or with criminal negligence" cause Seaney's death. The manslaughter charge is a Class A felony under Maine law.
It is not clear exactly where Seaney had been living prior to his death on Feb. 19. His obituary said he was a resident of Belfast and Glenburn, while police first identified him as a Bangor resident and later said he was from Brewer.
According to his obituary, Seaney grew up in Belfast and graduated from Belfast Area High School. The obituary stated that prior to his death, Seaney was planning for his departure for basic training with the United States Army.
In his obituary, Seaney was described as a young man who enjoyed an active social life and loved to find humor in the world around him.
"With the ability to turn the biggest frown upside down, Tyler enjoyed music, cooking and hanging out with his friends and making people laugh," the obituary stated.
A MySpace page listed as belonging to Luke Bryant features a background image of what appears to be a military-style automatic weapon, and in the "About Me" section of the page it states, in part, "as you can tell from my profile I like guns."
Another photo on the MySpace page listed as belonging to Bryant shows him pointing a handgun — it isn't clear whether it is a regular firearm or an Airsoft-type weapon — directly at the camera, while he is wearing a shirt that reads, "I don't discriminate (I hate everyone)."
McCausland said Feb. 23 that Bryant is expected to make his first court appearance at Waldo County Superior Court later this week. An official at Fifth District Court in Belfast said the court appearance may take place Friday, Feb. 25.