A family member and a neighbor say a series of text messages and a dispute between two men over a woman preceded a fatal Mother’s Day shooting at an East Lawrence apartment complex.
Charles T. Brockman, 26, of Lawrence, died after 6 p.m. Sunday after gunfire rang out at a barbecue at apartments in the 1100 block of East 13th Street.
Brockman’s older brother, Antonio Pam, 29, of Lawrence, said Tuesday that the conflict stemmed from a text message and that the shooter was a family friend.
“This is why it stings so bad,” he said.
Tim Brown, the apartment’s maintenance manager, said Brockman had a previous dispute with one of the people at the barbecue and that the differences concerned a female resident that the man was dating.
Brockman, who Brown said often visited family at the complex, planned to attend the barbecue until the man showed up with friends. Brown said the man and the woman, who have not been identified, sent Brockman threatening text messages while others called and warned him not to appear.
“I think he felt disrespected,” Brown said. “They were posted up at his family’s barbecue.”
Shortly before 6 p.m., as Brown manned the grill, he said he saw a woman pull up in a maroon Toyota and Brockman hop out with a shotgun. He said Brockman didn’t cock the gun at first, and only waved it around in an attempt to scare. Brown said he and others initially calmed Brockman and he began walking away, but then something was said that antagonized him. Brockman turned and chased the man, who ran to the second floor of one of two apartment buildings. Moments later, the man fired three shots into Brockman from between the steps as Brockman approached the staircase, Brown said.
“I ran up to him and said ‘Charles, you’ve been shot. Drop the gun,’” Brown said. Brown said Brockman's cousin soon arrived and drove Brockman to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Police later questioned the shooter but did not make an arrest.
Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police spokesman, said detectives will continue to work the case throughout the next several weeks and will continue to conduct follow-up interviews. After all interviews have been completed and forensics results received, McKinley said the information will be sent to the district attorney’s office for review. Though he said he didn’t have a timeline, McKinley said the reports could take a “considerable amount of time.” A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said the office would not comment until receiving all reports on the investigation.
For his part, Brown said he didn’t think the shooting was a case of self defense, citing the events leading up to the incident. On Tuesday, Pam said he was trying to arrange for Brockman’s body to be sent back to Mississippi, where the family has deep roots. Pam said hundreds of relatives still live in a small Mississippi town and others have lived in the Lawrence area since the late 1960s.
On Tuesday, Pam asked the other two involved in Sunday’s altercation to step forward.
“Tell the other two kids to turn themselves in because they know who they are,” Pam said.