Florida Father Had to Shoot One Son Dead to Save Other Son
A Florida father’s choice to shoot one of his sons in order to save the life of another son has left him “absolutely shattered” in what investigators say was a justifiable use of deadly force. The mother earlier called 911 to say the older son was acting “irrational.”
The incident occurred in the Florida Club community on December 16.
According to authorities, John Maloney’s wife, Marie, placed a 911 call at 5:47 a.m. Sunday from the family’s Stuart home to allege that their 30-year-old son, Joseph, was acting “irrational and needs to be Baker Acted” — a reference to a state mental health law that allows for involuntary detention of someone who is perceived to be a danger to themselves or others.
While officers were en route to the call, however, Marie called back to report that her husband had shot their older son, 30-year-old Joseph Maloney, “following a violent altercation” between him and his brother James, 26.
The Martin County Sheriff described a scene of devastation when he arrived at the family’s home.
“He was shattered,” William Snyder said at a news conference in the Sunshine State on Sunday about John Maloney, reports TCPalm.
“I don’t know if there’s any way for me to adequately describe the look on his face,” he said of the 56-year-old father. “It was an extremely violent scene... I am not sure what the dad could have done.”
Joseph’s violent outbursts apparently began hours earlier with another encounter that left marks from a machete on the door to his parents’ bedroom, where John and Marie Maloney had locked themselves for safety.
“It was a long night of trouble that culminated in this,” Snyder said while describing the scene inside the family home that included broken pool sticks, a knife on the ground and the machete marks on the door.
According to Snyder, witnesses told detectives that 30-year-old Joseph Maloney had been acting “irrational” for about eight hours and had been drinking with his brother, James.
A fight began when the two were playing pool with James attempting to subdue his older brother and keep him away from his parents. When a game of billiards descended into a ferocious argument, Joseph pulled a machete on his brother while choking him with one arm, Snyder said at the news conference, reports WPTV.
The father told police he “verbally intervened” and tried get Joseph off James when it appeared his younger son was losing consciousness.
“At one point the parents heard their younger son pleading for his brother to stop choking him because he could not breathe,” Snyder said, reports the Associated Press. “His brother continued to strangle his sibling with one arm, while holding a knife over him with his other hand.”
“When all other attempts to stop his older son from causing death or serious bodily harm to his younger sibling failed, John Maloney fired his revolver hitting his older son multiple times.”
“I’m not sure what the dad could’ve done. He was yelling at him to ‘stop, stop.’ I guess he could’ve jumped in but of course, he would have been at risk to himself.”
The brothers’ distraught mother Marie called 911, but police quickly ruled out the possibility of charges being pressed against her husband and no arrests were made.
According to Snyder, the statements and physical evidence indicate that at the time of the incident, the father believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious injury to his younger son. On arrival, authorities interviewed witnesses in the house and said each statement corroborated one another.
Joseph died in the home. The house clearly looked like there had been a violent struggle, with broken pool sticks and an open butterfly knife.
Family members and investigators theorize that Joseph Maloney’s behavior may have been triggered by the stress of his upcoming trial on charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide stemming from a wrong-way crash in 2015 that killed a high school football coach.
John Maloney has not been charged with shooting his son because police believe he was protecting his younger son from great bodily harm or death.
“Based on the circumstances that we think we have now...he would be justified in using deadly force,” Snyder said, explaining why no charges will be brought against the father.
“Whatever you can do to defend yourself, you can defend someone else,” Snyder said.