WHEATLAND, Wyo. – A man opened fire inside a Wyoming mobile home, killing his three sons and a brother and injuring his wife, authorities said Friday. One neighbor said the wounded woman ran from the home screaming, "He killed my babies!"
Everett E. Conant III surrendered without incident and was charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, battery and a weapons violation. The murder and attempted-murder charges carry sentences of death or life without parole.
Police found the bodies of the three boys and the brother, who was fatally wounded, inside the trailer home Thursday in Wheatland, about 70 miles north of Cheyenne. The woman was shot twice but was listed in good condition at a Cheyenne hospital.
"She kept screaming at me that her babies were dead. `He killed my babies!"' said Jessica Kornder, who lives in the same mobile home park. "I was in the kitchen doing some dishes after supper and I heard these two `pows,' and I thought it was fireworks. And then I heard this awful screaming."
Conant, whom police say was born in 1975, was ordered held without bail. His court-appointed lawyer, Eric Palen, declined to comment.
Conant's wife, Suzette Ann Conant, was shot in the ankle and shoulder, said Wheatland Police Chief Randy Chesser.
Conant's brother, Nacuma Roland Conant, 33, was taken to a Wheatland hospital where he was pronounced dead, Chesser said.
Authorities didn't immediately release the names of the other victims. But a judge referred to one of the sons as Joseph, and a court document referred to the others as "C.C." and "E.C." Their dates of birth weren't released, but the document indicates Joseph was 11 or 12, C.C. was 12 or 13 and E.C. was 17 or 18.
Chesser said a motive for the shootings wasn't immediately known.
He also said he didn't know if the boys were Conant's biological children.
Conant was shackled at the wrists and ankles during the court hearing. He whispered "yes" and "no" to the judge's questions.
Wheatland police Officer Doug Wiggins wrote in a court document that he was responding to a report of a shooting at the home. Conant yelled at him from the doorway and had something black in his hand, Wiggins said, adding that he saw what appeared to be the lifeless body of a male child on a couch.
The officer said he spoke with Conant for about 10 minutes before he persuaded him to leave the house without a weapon. He was arrested without further incident.
As police officers wrapped up the crime scene, Chesser said at least one handgun -- possibly more -- was used in the shootings. Asked how many rounds were fired, he said simply, "a lot."
Conant worked briefly at the Wyoming Premium Farms hog farm just north of Wheatland this spring but quit after mentioning problems arranging child care, said Doug Derouchey, the general manager.
"Kind of kept to himself," Derouchey said. "He just mentioned something about he was having difficulties kind of working it out time-wise."
"He was, I think, having problems elsewhere," Derouchey said.
Suzette Conant works at an A&W restaurant in Wheatland, said Beth Horsley, a co-worker there. "She is the nicest person in the world. She didn't do anything to anybody," Horsley said.
A collection jar was set up at the A&W for donations for Suzette Conant's medical care and the family's funeral costs.
"It's just a very tragic thing," said Jean Dixon, mayor of this agricultural town of 3,600 people.
"It's hard to comment on something that just never occurs around here. It's like, `How can it happen?' This is a small community. We all know each other."
Wyoming, with about 560,000 residents, averages just under 11 murders a year, state officials said.