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Dad Shoots Older Son Dead to Save His Other Child During Dispute. Police Say It Left Him ‘Shattered’

Martin County Sheriff's Office

A Florida father had to make a gut-wrenching decision on Sunday when his two sons got into a violent dispute.

The trouble started in the early hours on Sunday, after Joseph Maloney, 30, had been drinking in the family home, according to WPTV.

Joseph grew upset, prompting his parents to retreat to their bedroom. He then started hitting the door with a machete.

Police said his younger brother, 26-year-old James, tried to calm him down. But a few hours later, the situation escalated.

The brothers were playing a billiards game when Joseph once again became enraged. He put James into a chokehold and held a “rather large butterfly knife” over his brother’s head.

Joseph Maloney – Martin County Police Department

Martin County Sheriff William Synder said at a news conference:

“At one point the parents heard their younger son pleading for his brother to stop choking him because he could not breathe. His brother continued to strangle his sibling with one arm, while holding a knife over him with his other hand.”

The mother contacted police but the father, 56-year-old John Maloney, had to take action before they could arrive.

According to WPTV, John got his revolver and fired it several times at Joseph because James was losing consciousness.

The older son lost his life, but the father was not arrested. No charges were filed because authorities believe his use of deadly force was justified.

The sheriff said evidence indicated “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.”

But Synder said the difficult decision to shoot was emotional for the father:

“He (the father) was shattered. I don’t know that there’s any way for me to adequately describe the look on his face.”

In 2015, the older son was arrested for DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. His family said he was facing stress over the upcoming trial.

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