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'I shot them both,' 27-year-old charged with killing his father and uncle tells 911

Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin holds photo of 27-year-old Garrett Robert Eley. Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin holds photo of 27-year-old Garrett Robert Eley.

FLAT ROCK — A 27-year-old man is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death Sunday night of his father and uncle at a home in the Beaumont subdivision off Kanuga Road, Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin said in a news conference Monday morning.

Henderson County sheriff’s deputies charged Garrett Robert Eley, 27, with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his father, 60-year-old Stephen Robert Eley, and his uncle, 57-year-old Brian Eugene Eley. Deputies also charged Eley with two counts of kidnapping his grandparents, Patricia Ann Barker and Robert Irving Barker, who are listed in tax records as the owners of the home.

Griffin said the Barkers were in their late 70s or early 80s. Deputies responding to the 911 call found them locked in a bathroom. The bodies of Stephen Eley and Brian Eley were also found inside the garage and home.

Garrett Eley called 911 at 9:32 Sunday night from the home in an “eerily calm” voice confessed to a dispatcher that he had killed his father and uncle, Griffin said.

“Dispatchers received an unusual 911 call. The caller advised that two people in the residence had been shot,” Griffin said during a news conference Monday. “What makes this so unusual is that the 911 caller admitted to the shooting.”

Eley turned himself in as deputies arrived after earlier telling a 911 dispatcher that "I shot them both." Here is a transcript of the 911 call Eley made Sunday night:

Eley: “There’s been two shootings. There’s two people dead in the house.”

Dispatcher: "Do you live there?"

Eley: “Yes.”

Dispatcher: “Who are these people?”

Eley: “One of them was my father and the other one was my uncle.”

Dispatcher: “Are you inside the house with them?”

Eley: “Yes, and my grandparents as well.”

Dispatcher: “Did you just come home and find them deceased in the house?”

Eley: “I’m not really sure … I’m very new to this. I’m not sure how this process works.”

Dispatcher: “Were you there when this happened?”

Eley: “Yes.”

Dispatcher: “Who shot who?”

Eley: “Ummm. I shot them both.”

Dispatcher: “Where is the gun?”

Eley: “The gun is on the bed beside me.”

Dispatcher: “What kind of gun is it?”

Eley: “It is .308 semiautomatic Galil (rifle), also a 10-millimeter (pistol) but that’s on the counter.”

Dispatcher: “Where are your grandparents?”

Eley: “They’re in the bathroom. I used a chair to keep them in while I got my head sorted out. I had no intention of hurting either of them, I never did. It was between me and my dad and his brother.”

Dispatcher: “Did y’all get in an argument?”

Eley: “We’ve been … this has been a a lot of death threats back and forth since I got here. It’s kind of a long story. I would rather turn myself in and explain it down at the station if that’s possible. … I tried to clean up as best as I could.”

Dispatcher: “How long ago did you shoot them?”

Eley: “Probably close to maybe a couple hours.”

Dispatcher: “Where is your father?”

Eley: “He’s in the garage with a sheet over him. His brother is in his room.”

Dispatcher: “Are your grandparents OK? Have you checked on them lately?”

Eley: “Yeah, I saw them a short time ago.”

Dispatcher: “Did y’all have an argument or something?”

Eley: “It’s a very long dispute … a lot of desperate back and forth between each other over the years and frankly it kind of blew up tonight.”

Dispatcher: “Is there any way you can go outside the house?”

Eley: “Yes. Would you like me to wear something brightly lit?”

Dispatcher: “Do not have anything in your hands. When you go out, go out the front door. Make sure the officer can see your hands please. I need you to turn on the porch light. Walk out the door but nothing in your hands.”

Eley: “You’re not going to shoot me, right? I’m going to turn myself in.”

Dispatcher: “Are you outside yet?”

There is sound but no audible words in last seconds of the 10 minute, 16 second call.

When sheriff’s deputies responded to the 911 call, they came into the area without sirens, parked nearby and proceeded on foot to the home, Griffin said. Eley complied with officers’ instructions once they encountered him and he was arrested without incident.
Officers found the bodies of Stephen Eley and Brian Eley inside the home and later found the Barkers locked inside a bathroom.
Investigators were not sure Monday how long the couple was locked in the bathroom or how long Stephen Eley and Brian Eley had been dead before Garrett Eley called 911, Griffin said. But he said officers believe the entire incident occurred Sunday and that “some time had elapsed” before Garrett Eley called dispatchers. (Eley told the 911 dispatcher they had been dead a couple hours.)
Griffin declined to discuss what led to the shooting.
The suspect seemed mentally stable and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when officers arrived, he said.
“Garrett Eley knew what he was doing was wrong,” Griffin said. “My understanding is the suspect was completely cooperating with investigators.”
An ambulance took the Barkers to Pardee Hospital for evaluation. Griffin said he was unsure Monday if they remained at the hospital.
“Our first priority was getting them safely out of the residence,” he said.
Griffin said he was unsure how long the Eleys and Barkers had all lived at the home.
The sheriff said there may have been several firearms in the home that were owned by different people. He said investigators believe a high-powered rifle fired in close proximity was used to kill Stephen and Brian Eley.
In addition to the sheriff’s office, the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation is assisting in investigating the case.
Griffin said he called on the SBI to process the crime scene for evidence because his department’s major crimes unit was very busy recently working long hours and in need of some help.
Henderson County’s Rescue Squad also responded to the incident and transported the bodies of Stephen Eley and Brian Eley to the morgue at Pardee Hospital.
Garrett Eley made his first appearance in Henderson County’s District Court Monday morning where a judge explained the charges he faces and ordered him held in the county jail without bond.
The sheriff called on people to contact law enforcement if they feel a problem in their lives is too difficult to navigate safely on their own.
“There is no reason for this type of senseless violence,” he said.