A teenage boy shot and killed his mother's boyfriend as he tried to defend his mom from abuse, police in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, say.
John Conroy Jr., 37, died after he was shot multiple times by his girlfriend's 15-year-old son, the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies were called to a home on Towles Mill Road about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday for a shooting. Authorities found Conroy's body in a front room with multiple gunshot wounds.
According to investigators, Conroy and the teen's mother, who is 36, had argued for hours when Conroy physically attacked the woman in front of her son. The teen, who is not related to Conroy, pulled out a semiautomatic weapon owned by his mother and opened fire, police said.
The woman was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
The teen was charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a felony. All homicides in Virginia are presumed to be second-degree murders at the onset of the case, Capt. Jeff Pearce of the sheriff's office said.
"As the investigation progresses by the law enforcement agency and the information is made available to the Commonwealth attorney, they can then make the decision whether the case is raised to a more severe level, is reduced to a lesser severity or is dismissed altogether," he said.
Police said they had never been called for a domestic disturbance at the house, which was recently built on a country road.
Some Spotsylvania residents said they empathized with the teen.
"That's your mom. You gotta protect her. You go off your instincts," one man said. "For a teenage boy to have to make that decision, I can't even imagine what that would be like."
"I think he probably did the right thing trying to protect his mom," one woman said.
A court hearing on the shooting is scheduled to be held later this month.