KNOX, Maine — A Knox teen was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of his friend Tyler Seaney.
Bail for Luke Bryant, 19, was set at $250,000 cash, according to an official at Waldo County Jail, where the suspect remained Wednesday night.
Bryant reportedly had been holding a shotgun that went off inside his Dolloff Road apartment on Saturday night. The blast struck 19-year-old Seaney in the neck and killed him, according to a press release issued Wednesday afternoon by the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The manner of death was classified as a homicide by the State Medical Examiner’s Office, which conducted an autopsy Monday. Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland explained that “homicide” means one person killing another person, regardless of intent. In Maine, a person can be found guilty of manslaughter if he or she recklessly, or with criminal negligence, causes the death of another human being.
Bryant was taken into custody while visiting a home in Belfast just before 4 p.m. Wednesday and was booked at the jail. He is expected to make his first appearance in Waldo County Superior Court later this week, according to McCausland, who declined to provide more details of what happened that night.
“We have interviewed him, and what he said is not something we’re going to talk about,” McCausland said.
On a Facebook page listed as belonging to Bryant, it says that he is a member of the Belfast Area High School Class of 2009. On a MySpace page that is listed as belonging to him, a picture of a semiautomatic weapon is in the background image and there is an image of the teen with a pistol pointed at the camera.
“As you can tell from my profile I like guns,” states a passage in the “About Me” section of the MySpace page.
Bryant’s uncle Clayton Bryant, who also lives on Dolloff Road, said Wednesday that he has not had much to do with his nephew in recent years.
He said that he heard the ambulance pass his home Saturday evening, and people listening to police scanners let him know about the shooting.
“News travels fast,” Clayton Bryant said.
He said he headed to the apartment building, which is owned by his brother, Luke Bryant’s father. There were three people in the upstairs apartment when the shooting happened, according to Clayton Bryant — Seaney, Luke Bryant, and Seaney’s girlfriend.
“I’m 100 percent sure it was a stupid accident,” Clayton Bryant said. “No question in my mind it was an accident. But I think it was very reckless.”
He said that his nephew had guns and “plenty” of ammunition in the apartment where he lived alone.
“He’s had a fascination with guns,” Clayton Bryant said of his nephew.
Luke Bryant had been adopted as a boy of 5 or 6 from a troubled home, his uncle said. Later, his adoptive parents split up, with his father now living in the Philippines and his mother no longer involved in his life.
“He was kind of left behind here,” Clayton Bryant said.
Luke Bryant had been staying with a family in Northport, but wanted to get out on his own, so he moved to the house in deeply rural Knox.
He had no job and no car, Clayton Bryant said, in part because he had had a couple of accidents.
“That’s pretty depressing up there, with no transportation. We’re out in the country with no easy way to get to a job,” he said.
Luke Bryant apparently succeeded academically in high school, at times making the honor roll with high honors, according to Bangor Daily News archives. The MySpace page indicated Bryant planned to join the U.S. Marine Corps after his high school graduation.
Luke Bryant liked to go with his friends to a field behind the house and practice target shooting, his uncle said, adding that he did not know the details of the shooting Saturday night.
“There were a couple stories that he was cleaning the gun. Another story that he was just goofing around with the gun,” Clayton Bryant said. “All I know is that somehow he shot and killed his best friend. It was totally reckless, is what it was. It’s just tragic. Very tragic.”
Seaney’s obituary, which was published Tuesday in the BDN, stated that he had graduated from Belfast Area High School and was living in both Belfast and Glenburn. He had joined the U.S. Army and was working at the Bangor Wal-Mart while waiting to leave for boot camp.
He was described as having an “infectious smile” and enjoyed music, cooking, hanging out with friends and making people laugh. A Facebook page listed in Seaney’s name said his interests included skateboarding, snowboarding, acting and stand-up comedy.