Arizona town offers support for family of boy suspected in shooting

Monday, November 10, 2008
Police Chief Roy Melnick is photographed at the St. Johns Police station in St. Johns. Ariz. Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008. Police in this small eastern Arizona community are looking into the possibility that an 8-year-old boy who is charged with killing his father and another man with a rifle had been abused, the police chief said Saturday. The boy, who faces two counts of premeditated murder, did not act on the spur of the moment, Melnick said. "I'm not accusing anybody of anything at this point," he said. "But we're certainly going to look at the abuse part of this. He's 8 years old. He just doesn't decide one day that he's going to shoot his father and shoot his father's friend for no reason. Something led up to this." (AP Photo/Dana Felthauser)

ST. JOHNS, Ariz. -- People in this small, tight-knit community are reeling from the killing of a well-liked man police say was shot by his own 8-year-old son, and they will likely turn out in droves for his funeral.

"I don't think this church is big enough to handle it all," said the Very Rev. John Paul Sauter of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39, a co-worker who also rented a room from him, were found dead inside Romero's home -- one at the entrance and one in an upstairs room. Police charged Romero's son with two counts of premeditated murder.

"The recent tragedy in our community has been very sad, an incident that makes us ask 'Why?' yet pulls our citizens together with love and support," said Ross Overson, mayor of the town in eastern Arizona. "Without exception, the entire community has been affected by this tragic loss."

Ask anyone here, and chances are they know a member of the Romero family.

"Everybody knows them because there's like 100 of them," said Marybeth Ellsworth, who played the piano at Romero's wedding in September. "They're very well-liked in the community."

A prayer service was scheduled Sunday for Romero, and his funeral Mass was set for today at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

Resident Flynt Smith said Romero and Romans were "the best neighbors we've ever had." They helped out when he was installing sprinklers in his yard and when his roof needed repairs, he said.

At St. John the Baptist, Romero and his wife, Tiffany, both sang in the choir. The couple spent two years preparing for marriage, and when they tied the knot in September the "church was packed," Sauter said.

"Because both their parents were divorced, they wanted to make sure their marriage lasted until death, and it did," Sauter said.

Romero had full custody of the 8-year-old boy and the marriage made Tiffany Romero his stepmother. The boy's mother had visited St. Johns from Mississippi last weekend and returned to Arizona after the shootings that took place Wednesday, said Apache County Attorney Brad Carlyon.

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