ALLEN, Ky. -- One of the five victims of a murder spree by an elderly man called home moments before he was killed in a burst of gunfire, pleading 'God help me, Mommy' to his 13-year-old brother who answered the telephone.
Officials sought a motive Sunday in the shootings, which also wounded three people. The suspect, retired coal miner William 'Okie' Bevins, 70, was kept closeted in a secret location by authorities fearful of mountain-style revenge by relatives of the victims in the coal-rich southeastern Kentucky region.
Police had few clues in the Friday afternoon slayings, other than statements that Bevins had been arguing with Roger Click, 28, outside an auto parts store, shortly before Click was killed.
Tommy Joe Reitz, co-owner of Mountain Truck Parts, said he knew Bevins and Click had argued before Click stepped inside the shop and asked to use the telephone.
'I told him to go ahead,' Reitz said. 'The old man came in right behind him. When I saw him, I split.'
Anderson Newsome, 42, of Ligon, said Bevins entered the store annoucing, 'I'm gonna kill everybody in here if he don't get that telephone out of his hand.'
Stanley Click, 13, answered the telephone at the Click home. The person on the other end didn't identify himself but Stanley is sure it was his brother.
'Roger yelled out as loud as I ever heard, 'God help me, Mommy!' Then it sounded like a belt popping,' the boy said. 'I handed the phone to Mommy and she heard it, too.'
Said Newsome, 'He just shot 'em all to pieces ... It was the awfulest thing I ever seen.'
Newsome was released Saturday from the Appalachian Regional Hospital Saturday, where he was treated for a gunshot wound to the buttock.
Each of the victims had been shot between two and eight times, according to an autopsy report by Kentucky Medical Examiner George Nichols.
The autopsy findings partially supported eyewitness reports that the gunman repeatedly fired at his fallen victims as they lay writhing on the floor.
Besides Click, those killed were store co-owner Michael Halbert, 28; Rufus Hamilton, 42, of Ligon; Roger Hatfield, 34, of Mohawk, W.Va.; and Garvy Hamilton, 27, of Floyd County.
Bevins was picked up by state police as he sat on the front porch of his two-story frame house in Printer, 8 miles from the shooting scene. He offered no resistance.
State police dispatcher Homer Coleman said authorities would not disclose where Bevins was being held for his safety. A court hearing has been set for Bevins but the time and place were being withheld as a security precaution.