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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Shooting Victims Blame Parents & Smoke Shop

PHOENIX (CN) - Parents' and a smoke shop owner's failure to secure their guns allowed a 15-year-old boy to shoot two people to death and wound a third at the suburban smoke shop, the wounded man claims in court.

Keith Matlock, whose father was killed in the shooting, sued seven people and the smoke shop, in Maricopa County Court. Robert Trautman, who was wounded, joined as plaintiff.

Lead defendant Tyson Drew Langley, then 15, allegedly shot up The Euphorium Emporium, a smoke shop in Peoria, Ariz., on Jan. 17, 2012, killing Kenneth Matlock and Melinda Bowen, and wounding Trautman.

Defendants include Langley's mother and stepfather, Melissa and Michael Barry; The Euphorium and its owners, Brent and Mary Jane Brown; and Langley's father and stepmother, Jason and Heather Langley.

Tyson Langley is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

According to a Probable Cause Statement appended to the state's murder charges, Tyson pointed a .40-caliber handgun at the store owner and demanded money. While Langley was robbing the store of "about $300," the store owner tried to warn Melinda Bowen not to enter, but she did not understand and entered anyway, according to the state's Probable Cause Statement.

Robert Trautman and then Kenneth Matlock entered the store. Tyson shot Melinda in the back of the head and shot Matlock in the head, killing both of them, and shot Trautman as he fled and ran along the storefront, according to the Probable Cause Statement.

"During the robbery Tyson took about $300 from the register and a Taurus .40 caliber handgun from the store owner Brent Brown," the Probable Cause Statement states. It adds: "Detectives learned that Tyson's step-father's Taurus .40 caliber handgun is now missing from his truck, and he fears that Tyson may have taken it."

According to the Probable Cause Statement, Tyson tried to steal Brent Brown's vehicle after the shootings, and "Tyson did take Kenneth [Matlock's] 2004 Dodge Dakota pickup truck after he killed him, and it appears that he may have taken cash from Kenneth's wallet as well."

Tyson dumped the stolen truck at a Walgreen's parking lot, where he asked a "male subject" for a cigarette, according to the Probable Cause Statement. The man, who called police, "stated that Tyson was acting very nervous and when he asked Tyson why, he told him that some guy tried to car jack him so Tyson had to smoke him," according to the Probable Cause Statement.

The plaintiffs say in the complaint that when Tyson entered the smoke shop he "had possession of a gun that he had obtained from defendants Michael Barry and Melissa Barry."

The complaint continues: "After obtaining possession and control of the second gun, defendant Tyson Drew Langley then proceeded to shoot three (3) innocent business patrons of defendant Euphorium Emporium."

The plaintiffs say Tyson killed and wounded the victims with the gun from the smoke shop: "Brent Anthony Brown and Mary Jane Brown and each of them left the gun exposed and unsecured, allowing defendant Tyson Drew Langley to obtain possession and control of the gun, wherein he used it to threaten, assault and/or injure or kill Kenneth Matlock and Robert Trautman," according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs claim that Tyson had been to the smoke shop before, where he "had purchased various merchandise, including the illegal substance known as 'Spice,'' from defendants Brent Anthony Brown and Mary Jane Brown."

(Spice refers to a wide variety of herbal mixtures that include synthetic marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The DEA has designated the five active chemicals most often found in spice Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy or possess them, according to the NIDA.)

The complaint does not state that Langley was under the influence of Spice when he shot up the smoke shop, but it says the Browns "knew or should have known the intended purposes and uses of 'Spice,' yet ignored said knowledge in providing the product to 15-year-old Tyson Drew Langley and others."

The plaintiffs make a number of complaints against Tyson's mother and stepfather:

"a. Failing to maintain proper possession and control of a firearm;

"b. Failing to properly secure a firearm;

"c. Failing to properly secure a firearm so as to prevent the possession and control by their 15-year-old son, defendant Tyson Drew Langley;

"d. Failing to conduct their private affairs with the amount of discretion needed to assure that they would remain private, and unknown to their son, defendant Tyson Drew Langley;

"e. Failing to act as reasonable persons in the conduct of their sexual acts and affairs, to prevent said lewd conduct from becoming known by their minor son, Tyson Drew Langley;

"f. Otherwise failing to conduct themselves and their affairs in a reasonable manner."

The complaint does not explain how his parents' allegedly "lewd conduct" may have contributed to the shooting, other than to say: "Defendants Michael Barry and Melissa Barry knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that their private sexual affairs and lewd acts becoming known to their 15-year-old son, Tyson Drew Langley, would have an adverse effect on him, with unpredictable and potentially violent and/or harmful consequences."

The complaint also accuses Langley's father and stepmother of failing to "properly rear, raise, teach, supervise and control their minor child, so as to prevent him from intentionally, recklessly and/or negligently causing injuries and damages to others."

After the shooting, Langley fled to Los Angeles, where he was picked up on Skid Row and returned to Peoria, according to the Arizona Republic.

Three days after the shooting, the Republic reported that Tyson Langley shot up the smoke shop as he robbed it. It described him as an honors student and a member of the Air Force Junior ROTC.

Trautman and Matlock seek special and general damages for wrongful death and negligence. They are represented by Christopher Zachar.

Follow @jamierossCNS
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