DETAILS EMERGE IN BRUNSWICK SHOOTING: ‘My friend bled to death out there’
August 23, 2011
When two Carson City women happened upon Anthony Joseph Kelich early Saturday morning, they said, he looked exhausted, filthy and in shock.
Some 12 hours earlier, Kelich, 60, had been with his two roommates, Mike Scott, 46, and Kennith Johnson, 47. The trio reportedly had been drinking and shooting Johnson’s rifle in the East Carson City desert.
It was around sundown Friday, police say, when Johnson stopped his truck near the reservoir about 8 miles into the hills off Sedge Road. Johnson told investigators he got out to urinate and handed the loaded rifle to Kelich on the passenger side. Scott was standing by the driver’s door.
Kelich told authorities his finger was on the trigger when he went to put the rifle down on the seat.
At that point, the gun fired. A single shot went through the open door and struck Scott in the left side of his face, mortally wounding him.
Johnson, who had his back to his friends at the time, said he spun around just in time to see Scott fall, the sheriff’s report states.
In a panic, Johnson jumped into his pickup and – with both his friends’ cell phones still in the vehicle – raced alone out of the canyon, said Sheriff Ken Furlong.
Johnson didn’t immediately go to police. In fact, authorities said, it wasn’t until almost 9 a.m. Saturday – almost 12 hours after the shooting – that he would drive his blood-spattered truck into the courthouse parking lot and call 911.
Around that time, two families on a Saturday morning outing happened upon the exhausted Kelich on the winding dirt road in Brunswick Canyon. The two women (who asked not to be identified in this story), along with their husbands and one of the couples’ 10-year-old son, were taking advantage of the cool morning hours to gather wood.
After collecting a load, the women decided to run it home, leaving the men behind. It was while making their way back to town on the primitive road in their own pickup that they first saw Kelich standing along that route.
“He was off to the driver’s side,” the first woman said, “and I thought, ‘This guy doesn’t look right.’ I told my mother to roll up her window and lock the door.”
Kelich, the women said, was wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt. His shins were scraped and bloody. An abrasion could be seen on his bald head.
“He put his hand up and said, ‘Help.’ He looked weak or exhausted. He looked like his hand only went up halfway for help,” the second woman said.
The women stopped, and Kelich told them his friend had been accidentally shot the night before.
“He said, ‘It feels like I’ve been walking for 30 or 40 miles. Where am I?'” the first woman recounted. “I said, ‘You’re in Carson. You’re pretty close to Deer Run Road.’ He wanted to get in the truck, but we told him no. We gave him water and he was shaking really bad.”
As Kelich stood next to their vehicle, they called 911.
“He didn’t get freaked or anything,” said the second woman. “He was exhausted. You could tell he was upset. I didn’t get any aggressive thing from him.”
Said the first woman: “He just said, ‘I need help. My friend bled to death out there – I need help.’ He said it was a just an accidental shooting. He didn’t say any certain names, and we didn’t ask his name.”
“When he asked to get in the truck and I told him no,” the second woman continued, “he put both hands up and stepped back and said, ‘I understand.'”
The woman told Kelich to stay on the road and said they’d be back. They set the trip meter on their odometer to zero and made 1.7-mile bumpy ride to Deer Run Road.
The first call came to 911 from the women at 8:51 a.m., reporting that they’d found a man in the road, “all scratched up.”
The sheriff’s dispatch log says the man reported “another up in the canyon that was shot and killed.”
“Male … told her that a third man left them last night to try to find help,” it reads.
A few minutes later, Johnson arrived at the Carson City Courthouse and called 911. His truck spattered with Scott’s blood and the rifle lying inside, Johnson waited.
Furlong said the men gave essentially the same account, but authorities are continuing to investigate where Johnson was all night.
Kelich, on the other hand, told officials he had stayed by his dying friend’s side through the night, according to Detective Capt. Ken Sandage. Kelich said that he thought Johnson would send help, and so he did his best to comfort his friend, said Sandage.
But dusk turned to night. And when the sun in Northern Nevada goes dark, the chill comes.
Kelich said that in an effort to keep Scott warm, he started a fire. And as the hours passed and no help came, he set some more. But despite the tinder-dry state of the desert vegetation, none stayed lit.
It’s not clear exactly what the two friends talked about in Scott’s last hours, Sandage said. But Kelich said his friend had lived for at least nine hours.
When Scott took his last breath at sunrise, Kelich decided he would try to walk out.
His haunting trek was what the two women happened upon. They told Kelich to stay put and they’d send help. At the bottom of the hill, they met a deputy.
Officers found Kelich on the dirt road, and he took them to Scott’s body, Furlong said.
Kelich, who has a felony record that includes drunken driving, is not allowed to use guns. And he admitted to authorities that he had been intoxicated at the time of the shooting. Under Nevada law, those two elements are what authorities needed to charge him with felony involuntary manslaughter.
Involuntary manslaughter is either the commission of an unlawful act that leads to the death of another, or the commission of a lawful act in an unlawful manner.
Kelich was arraigned Monday morning. He remains in custody on $10,000 bail.
An autopsy was conducted Monday at the Washoe County Coroner’s Office, and the cause of Scott’s death will be determined after toxicology results, said Furlong.
“This does appear to be an accidental shooting with alcohol as a factor, but by no means is this investigation done,” the sheriff said. “We are trying to validate everything that we think we know. This could change.
“If we were to come up with a circumstance that disclosed conflicting information, things easily change very rapidly.”
He said investigators are still trying to determine what was Johnson doing in the overnight hours between the shooting and his call to 911.
“The sad circumstance is this: Even if you’re doing something wrong, life takes precedence over everything,” Furlong said. “I don’t care what they were doing that led up to it.
“I’d much rather save the life than go after someone for drunk driving.”