Published Thursday, July 10, 2014 | 1:29 p.m.
Updated Thursday, July 10, 2014 | 1:29 p.m.
LOBELVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A 15-year-old was charged Thursday with one count of criminal homicide in the fatal shooting of a longtime member of the National Guard at a Tennessee armory, according to the state's Bureau of Investigation.
The suspect didn't work at the armory, which is usually locked, but somehow gained access to the building and fired several shots Wednesday evening, authorities said. One struck Sgt. 1st Class Michael W. Braden, 45, who had been with the guard for more than 20 years, law enforcement and Guard officials said. He died later at a hospital.
The teenager, questioned as a person of interest early Thursday, was being held without bond at a juvenile detention facility, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesman Josh DeVine said. The suspect was arrested without incident at his family's home in Lobelville, a rural community amid rolling hills and woodlands about 50 miles southwest of Nashville.
It was unclear whether the suspect and victim knew each other. But Braden had wide contacts in the community for his outreach with local inmates assigned to help clean the armory as part of a program led by the Perry County Sheriff's Department.
A sheriff's department K-9 officer, Rodd Staid, said Braden often supervised the prisoners on the cleaning detail and would try to find them jobs or encourage them to consider military service after their release from custody.
"Excellent guy who would do anything to help anybody," said Staid. "It's a tragedy. We lost a good man."
DeVine said the building doesn't have surveillance cameras, but at least one other person in addition to the shooter and the victim was at the armory at the time of the shooting. But DeVine said it was unclear whether there were any eyewitnesses.
The teenager could be tried as an adult, but DeVine said that as of Thursday afternoon, he didn't believe the case had been transferred to the adult system.
Willodean Kilpatrick, a neighbor of the suspect, said the boy lived with his aunt and arrived about a year ago from Louisiana. She said she would sometimes exchange pleasantries with the boy as he passed and described him as "quiet."
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam issued a statement Thursday lamenting Braden's death.
"It's a tragic day when we lose a decorated hero who has served his country so well," Haslam said.