No charges in Burns shooting case | VailDaily.com

No charges in Burns shooting case

EAGLE — A Burns man was protecting his home and will not be charged in a home invasion shooting death last December.

The evidence shows that Doug Behrends was protecting himself and his property from an intruder, said Bruce Brown, district attorney.

"That's his right under the law," Brown said.

The whole thing started at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 19, when Brooks Hampton broke through the front door of Behrends' second floor apartment in Burns, a remote area in northwest Eagle County.

Hampton was wearing hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up and a mask that covered the bottom of his face, similar to those worn by skiers and motorcycle riders. He was carrying what turned out to be a realistic-looking air pistol, police said.

Behrends said he could not tell who it was and didn't learn it was Brooks Hampton until Eagle County sheriff's investigators told him when he was being questioned.

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Behrends said he was watching a movie in his home when he saw headlights from an approaching automobile flash across his ceiling. The apartment is isolated and on the second floor above a garage.

After the car parked and the driver stepped out, Hampton began walking slowly toward Behrends' apartment. Behrends said he repeatedly told the person approaching to stop and identify himself.

When he reached the bottom of the stairs leading to Behrends' apartment, Behrends went back into the apartment to grab a .40 caliber handgun.

When he returned, Hampton was at the door and pushed it open, knocking Behrends back into the room. Behrends told him to stop, as Hampton screamed at Behrends to get on the floor, Behrends said.

Behrends said as he pointed his .40 caliber handgun at Hampton, he repeatedly yelled at Hampton to drop the gun and identify himself.

Behrends said when he heard a metallic click from Hampton's gun, which sounded like the safety being turned off, he fire once, killing Hampton.

Because there is no cell phone service in that part of Burns, Behrends went to his landlord's house nearby and called 911.

'I love you, mom'

Earlier that night, Brooks' mother, Glenda, was helping a friend who was having some troubles when Brooks called to check on her.

He told her he was going to have a beer with a neighbor. She told him she'd see him in the morning.

The last thing he told her was, "I love you, Mom."

An hour and a half later he was dead and his family was shattered and confused.

Unmarked car

The case was strange enough, but took a bizarre twist when, two days later, Eagle County Sheriff's Detectives, driving an unmarked vehicle, led Brooks' younger brother to Behrends' apartment to get Brooks' car, which had been left there all weekend.

Behrends said he recognized the Hampton's family vehicle, but not the sheriff's unmarked Chevy SUV.

Behrends, whose friends had stayed with him all weekend, was alone and armed when the plain-clothes detectives showed up at 11:30 a.m. that Monday.

Behrends got two years probation for firearm possession while under a restraining order, a misdemeanor.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.