Brother held in deadly Rifle shooting |

Brother held in deadly Rifle shooting

Heidi Rice and Pete Fowler
Rifle, Co Colorado
Kelley Cox Post/IndependentRifle police and investigators work outside an East Avenue residence where a homicide took place the evening before.

RIFLE, Colorado ” A man allegedly shot his older brother in the head after being begged to do so, according to a neighbor and witness following a shooting Monday night on East Avenue in Rifle, Colorado.

Heath Johnston, 20, was arrested for first degree murder and lodged in the Garfield County Jail. He is being held without bail.

According to a press release from the Rifle Police department, the victim was Sam Johnston, 26. He was declared deceased at the scene of a gunshot wound, the press release added.

The shooting occurred shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday night at a single family rented home at 721 East Avenue where the Sam Johnston lived and had partial custody of his three children, according to neighbors. John Stagg, who rents a home next door at 729 East Avenue, said he was awakened out of bed by the sound of the gun shot.

“Heath walked over barefoot in the snow and said ‘I just shot my brother,'” Stagg said. “He told me Sam was begging for him to blow his head off because he was miserable.”

According to an arrest affidavit, Heath Johnston allegedly shot his brother in the back of the head with a shotgun.

Stagg said he went over to the Johnston house to see if the kids were there. They weren’t.

A woman, a friend of Stagg’s, called dispatch from the neighboring house and reported the incident.

Police responded minutes after the call.

“We arrived on the scene a few minutes later and found a deceased male,” said Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner. “We took an adult male into custody.”

A lab team from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation., as is the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

When police arrived, Stagg said they first pointed their guns at him, he then pointed to the Johnston house where Heath Johnston was standing on the front porch with his hands up in the air.

According to Stagg, although he hadn’t known them long, the Johnston brothers seemed quite close. He also said he didn’t believe that neither drugs nor alcohol seemed to be a factor in the shooting.

An advisement for Heath Johnston is scheduled for today.

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