BELEN, N.M. – A 10-year-old New Mexico boy is facing a murder charge in the shooting death of his father.
Police alleged that the boy used his own rifle to shoot his father and then called authorities. Arriving at the family's home Thursday evening, police found 42-year-old Byron Hilburn with a head wound. He was pronounced dead at an Albuquerque hospital.
The youth reportedly told officers that he thought his father was disciplining him too harshly and too often, according to KOAT-TV.
Local media, in weekend reports, said a first-degree murder charge was pending against the boy. There was no comment Sunday from authorities. A dispatcher taking messages for the Belen Police Department told The Associated Press that spokesmen were unavailable until Monday.
Police said they suspect that the shooting was witnessed by the boy's 6-year-old sister, who has since been placed with relatives.
The boy is in the custody of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department.
Hilburn was divorced and had custody of both children, police said.
Though neighbors said the family seemed normal, the state agency responsible for protecting children had been called about problems in the home.
Romaine Serna, spokeswoman for CYFD, said the agency was called to check on the family more than seven times since 2003 after receiving anonymous reports of child abuse and neglect.
"We had concerns about this family. There were red flags," Serna said.
But the agency interviewed family members, close friends, school officials and doctors and "not one of them had concerns about this household," Serna said.
Serna said CYFD didn't have enough evidence to remove the children from the household.
"There were no bruises. There were no marks," she said.
Next-door neighbor Elaine Sanchez said they were just "regular neighbors that we used to say hi and bye to."
Sanchez said her daughter played with the 6-year-old girl.
"We live just a few feet from them. My little daughter likes to go out and ride her bike and now I keep thinking, 'What if she had been hit, too?' " Sanchez said.
Belen is 35 miles south of Albuquerque.