MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. – A fight between two brothers ended with their father fatally shooting his son in Martin County in southeast Florida early Sunday morning.
At 5:47 a.m. Martin County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the 900 block of SW Bromelia Terrace, located in The Florida Club near Stuart, Florida.
911 operators received a call from Marie Maloney reporting that her son Joseph Maloney, 30, was acting irrational and needed to be “Baker Acted,” according to Sheriff William Snyder.
“It was an extremely violent scene,” Snyder said.
As deputies were on their way to respond to the call, she called 911 again to say her husband had just shot Joseph following a violent altercation between Joseph and her younger son, James Maloney, 26.
The brothers’ parents, John and Marie Maloney, were present during the argument and say the brothers were consuming alcohol throughout the evening and Joseph had been acting irrationally for about eight hours.
Snyder says a physical altercation began over a game of billiards, and escalated into the violent attack of one brother on another.
The siblings’ father, 56-year-old John Maloney, told deputies that he verbally intervened in an attempt to get the older sibling, Joseph, off of his brother James but was unable to do so.
Sheriff Snyder says at one point, the parents heard James pleading to his brother to stop choking him because he could not breathe.
The parents and James say that Joseph continued to strangle James with one arm while holding a “rather large butterfly knife” over his head, according to Snyder.
At the point when James started to lose consciousness, John Maloney fired his revolver, striking his oldest son multiple times.
Sheriff Snyder says the family witnesses’ statements and the physical evidence “indicate that at the time of the incident, Mr. Maloney believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent the death or great bodily injury to his younger son.”
Sheriff Snyder said that hours before the fight and shooting occurred Joseph Maloney had exhibited violent behavior when his parents locked themselves in their bedroom while he attacked their door with a machete. Deputies observed machete marks in the parents’ bedroom door. Snyder says the family told investigators that during this attack, James Maloney was attempting to keep Joseph calm and away from their parents’ bedroom.
No arrest has been made and Snyder said that based upon the circumstances they have now, John Maloney would have been justified in using deadly force in the shooting.