Hampton remembered as loving
Brooks Hampton was not a drug-addled burglar, and his family and friends have made it clear they’re outraged by that portrayal.
“Everyone thinks it’s about drugs. Brooks didn’t do drugs,” said Glenda Hampton, Brooks’ mother.
Her son’s toxicology report confirms it. There were no narcotics in his system when he died.
“He was not robbing anyone. He had money in the bank and an inheritance on the way. He’d just bought a car,” Glenda Hampton said, adding that he hadn’t even had a chance to license it.
Their lives have been a whirlwind since Doug Behrends shot Brooks Hampton when he entered Behrends’ second-floor apartment in Burns on a Friday night last month. Behrends said Hampton pushed through his apartment door and threatened him with a gun.
‘I love you, mom’
In a quiet moment Tuesday, Brooks Hampton’s family remembered him as fun, funny and loving. His laugh echoed the length of the Colorado River he lived beside, his friends say.
“The last thing Brooks said was, ‘I love you, Mom. I’ll see you in the morning,’” said Glenda Hampton, his mother.
She fights back tears as she tells the story and eyes the beautiful brass urn with pearl inlay on her coffee table. Her son’s ashes are in it, his final resting place — except it’s not. His love and laugh are everywhere she looks, in everything she touches, she said.
Glenda Hampton was helping a friend who was having some troubles when her son 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, Glenda Hampton said.
He didn’t get the beer and he didn’t see his mother again.
An hour and a half later, he was dead and his family was shattered and confused.
“None of it adds up to what Brooks would have done,” said Ryan Hampton, Brooks’ younger brother. “He’s not a bad person. He had no enemies, but even with those who could have been enemies, he prayed for them.”
Glenda Hampton said she trusts God and so did Brooks Hampton.
“I pray every day and so did he,” she said.
Brooks Edward Hampton, 33, was born Feb. 27, 1981, and named after his grandfather. His mother was born Feb. 28. His younger brother, Ryan Hampton, was born Jan. 28. Birthdays are a big deal in their home, Glenda Hampton said.
Brooks Hampton was engaged and wanted to have children, his mother said.
She has had her sons by herself since they were 1 and 3 years old. For the past two decades, they lived on their Derby Junction property, where she raised them after they moved from Tucson, Arizona. If you’ve been out that way, you know the place. There’s an antique Conoco sign along the Colorado River and the road. She rents cabins and runs a boat ramp. Her sons work with her.
“It’s been a wonderful life,” Ryan Hampton said.
That’s the thing, though. It’s a tightly knit, small community, and everyone knows everyone else.
“We’ve lived on that road for 20 years. We know you don’t walk up someone’s door unannounced. They’ll have an arsenal on the other side of that door,” Ryan Hampton said.
Some conjecture that it might have been a prank or practical joke gone horribly wrong. Ryan Hampton dismisses the notion.
“Brooks was a prankster and practical joker, but he would never have done that. You can play a prank on someone, but you’d have to be dumb to do that, and Brooks was not dumb,” he said.
“The support has been amazing and how many know the truth behind it,” Ryan Hampton said. “We all know the wrong behind it.”
More than 250 people attended the celebration of Brooks Hampton’s life, coming in from both coasts and several states. After the celebration, hundreds adjourned to a bonfire, where they swapped stories about some of his best pranks.
“Brooks was nothing but fun,” said Michael, a cousin.
“He had a contagious laugh that’s going to leave a hole in everyone’s life,” said Lana Musser, Ryan Hampton’s fiancee.
“Brooks loved life. He said, ‘Mom, until the day I die I’m going to have fun, and I never want to leave,’” Glenda Hampton said.
They’re trying to forgive, to understand, to heal.
Glenda Hampton said she has nightmares that she’s being chased, but she is never caught. She gets up in the morning thinking about her son, the same thoughts she has in the evenings and every minute in between.
“There’s a lot of forgiveness out there, but it doesn’t make it easy. I still don’t know what his motive was. I don’t know why he killed my brother,” Ryan Hampton said. “I hope (Behrends) goes to bed every night and wakes up every day knowing what he did to this family.”
Behrends charged with menacing
Three days after Behrends shot Brooks Hampton, Eagle County sheriff’s detectives showed up in an unmarked vehicle, accompanied by Ryan Hampton and Brooks’ stepfather, Ernest Brown, in a separate vehicle.
Brooks Hampton’s car had been in Behrends’ driveway since the shooting three days earlier, and they’d come to retrieve it.
In a courthouse interview, Behrends said he recognized the vehicle belonging to Hampton’s family, as well as Ryan Hampton and Brown, but not the Sheriff’s Office unmarked brown Chevy Tahoe.
Behrends has said he did not know what to expect, so he armed himself with a high powered hunting rifle.
Behrends now faces two counts of felony menacing and one count of possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.
The Sheriff’s Office said they sent a message to Behrends’ landlord to tell him they were coming, because Behrends doesn’t have a landline and there’s no cell service in that part of the Burns area.
“I heard a vehicle coming up my driveway and saw that was not marked as a police officer’s car, with a car driven by the family of the assailant with it,” Behrends said in an earlier courthouse interview. “That was a very bad decision on their part.”
“They could have driven a black and white and not had a vehicle of the assailant’s family. I honestly thought they were going to jump out and start shooting,” Behrends said.
The detectives said as they drove up, they noticed the door to Behrends’ second-floor apartment was slightly ajar, like someone was watching their approach. They also said that whoever was watching had an object in their hands and that they initially thought was a video camera.
A film crew from National Geographic has been making a documentary about Rocky Mountain law enforcement and has been filming Behrends’ case as part of that project.
Their videographers filmed that Monday incident. However, Jim Lindsay, who is with that National Geographic crew, said they have not yet looked at that footage.
Behrends appeared Tuesday morning in Judge Katharine Sullivan’s court with his attorney, Terry O’Connor. They’re back in Sullivan’s court at 9 a.m. on Feb. 3
District Attorney Bruce Brown said the shooting remains under investigation and prosecutors have not decided whether to file charges in connection with that.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.