The surviving member of a trio of Montana State University schoolmates who "did everything together" says his slain buddies didn't know the person who shot them at close range with a sawed-off shotgun.
And Jody Hensen of Spokane, also a MSU freshman, said he didn't know the teenager charged with the slayings either.The 19-year-old freshman victims were Brian Boeder of Plymouth, Minn., and James Clevenger of Billings, Mont.
They were killed shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday in their dormitory, both victims of multiple 12-gauge shotgun wounds.
Brett Byers, also 19, a sophomore business student from Great Falls, has been charged with two counts of deliberate homicide in connection with the deaths. He is being held without bond.
Byers also faces additional charges resulting from a crash near East Helena, about 90 miles away, while authorities were chasing his vehicle.
Hensen said Wednesday that he was with Clevenger right after he was shot.
"He didn't know who shot him," Hensen said in a telephone interview with the Great Falls Tribune. He also said he didn't think Boeder knew his assailant either.
Hensen said his friends had just returned to the dorm room from the television room. He said another dorm resident told him Byers had been playing blackjack upstairs before the shooting but the card game had nothing to do with the victims.
Bozeman Police Chief Dick Boyer said authorities knew of no motive but were still analyzing evidence, some of it coming from Byers' dormitory room and vehicle after authorities obtained search warrants Wednesday.
Boyer said that while detectives were trying to determine what prompted the shooting spree, they also were learning more about the alleged assailant.
A background report prepared by the Great Falls Police Department for local investigators suggests that Byers was a risk-taker who would act on dare, Boyer said.
Byers was a suspect in two fires at his parents' home; was known to douse tennis balls in gasoline and light them on fire as part of target practice; and tended, while hunting, to shoot at anything that moved, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Wednesday.
Byers has had three different roommates since the start of the school year and had been linked to rampant vandalism at Langford Hall dormitory as both a victim and suspect, the Chronicle reported.
Sgt. Bob Furu, a Bozeman Police Department detective, said it is still too soon to speculate on a motive in the slayings.
More than 800 people shared their grief and bewilderment Wednesday during a memorial service for the slain students. Students were excused from classes to attend the service.