- Posted October 3, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Young Man Drives Down Street, Murdered With AK-47; Killer Released To Vacation Home 48 Hours Later
Brandon Hydrick was killed Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in Limestone County.
The warm glow was poignant and heartbreaking for onlookers, a reminder of their friend, Brandon Hydrick, who loved to kayak on the creek that was accessed through a friend's property near Elkmont.
Hydrick was shot to death at about 3 a.m. Saturday by a man authorities say was brandishing an AK-47 on a dark, dead-end road near Tanner in southern Limestone County.
Hydrick, 26, died in the arms of his brother, Ryan, 25, after a bullet struck the tailgate of the the pickup truck Ryan was driving, penetrated the truck cab, the backseat and then the front passenger seat, striking Brandon.
The brothers, who grew up in Harvest with their parents Phillip and Donna Hydrick, had been at a cookout and marshmallow roast near Piney Creek on property owned by the parents of Brandon's girlfriend, Bronwen Murray of Huntsville.
Joel Patrick Moyers, 52, who was living temporarily in a mobile home on Fennell Road owned by his mother, was quickly arrested and charged with murder and with shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said Moyers told authorities he shot the assault rifle into the air as a warning because he thought the young men seemed suspicious as they drove past. The sheriff said from the angle of the bullet, Moyers would have discharged the weapon quite low.
Ryan Hydrick posted on his Facebook page Sunday that "the boats were simply a perfect send off ... we deeply appreciate the thoughtfulness of it." He described the time since his brother's death as his "darkest of hours."
Jessica Hydrick Nichols, the older sister of Brandon and Ryan, spoke to a reporter Monday despite bouts of weeping, saying her family wants people to know Brandon was a special person.
"We are heartbroken," she said, sobbing. "We miss him so much. He was so wonderful and he had so many friends."
The Hydrick siblings attended Sparkman High School. Brandon graduated in 2004 and later earned an associate's degree from Drake State Technical College. He was a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and soon to complete a bachelor's degree, Nichols said.
He worked at Halo Monitoring Inc., a medical alert company in Huntsville. Brandon also played for the Huntsville Adult Soccer League. "He loved it. He was very athletic, just a ball of energy," Nichols said. "He was unbelievably outgoing."
Nichols said Brandon and Murray had been dating for about a year and the couple was "very serious."
Murray said that Brandon and Ryan often drove down Fennel Road, where she lives, and they knew of Moyers' reputation.
"We were aware to be cautious around him because he had threatened other people in the neighborhood and he was known to have a lot of weapons," Murray said.
She said that Hydrick had passed Moyers' home several times in recent months, seen him outside and had waved to him. She said he waved back.
Moyers was released Monday from Limestone County Jail on $260,000 bond. District Judge Jerry Batts set bond on the conditions that Moyers relinquish any firearms and that he must not possess a gun while free on bail. Also, he must move to his mother's home in Cullman.
District Attorney Brian Jones said he filed a motion as soon as court opened Monday to be heard on bond because of authorities' concern that Moyers should not be allowed to have weapons in his possession before trial. Jones said there is no law against owning an AK-47 in Limestone County.
Blakely said Moyers told authorities a neighbor had asked him to "keep an eye" on his home while he was away and, when Moyers heard a noise outside, he left his mobile home and saw the pickup truck passing. In his statement, Moyers said he wanted to get the tag number from the truck so he ran after the truck into the road and then fired.
"You can't go out there and just shoot somebody just because they're riding down the road," the sheriff said. "If someone sees suspicious activity, they need to contact local law enforcement - if it's an emergency dial 911, if not, call the direct number to the sheriff's department. It's for their own safety and to prevent incidents like this."
Jones stressed the shooting was "no fault of the victims."
"We didn't see anything in our investigation they did wrong," he said. "They were down at a cookout and came around the corner and stopped. They were 100 yards down the road when he (Moyers) shot at them."
In that moment, a family was shattered.
The Hydrick home near Anderson Hills subdivision had survived three devastating tornadoes - in 1995, 2011 and earlier this year - causing some damage but not the destruction that left many neighbors homeless.
Its walls sheltered a close-knit family, especially the two golden-haired boys separated in age by only a year. On Monday, Ryan changed his Facebook profile picture to one showing him and Brandon as little boys wearing matching Batman pajamas and looking like twins.
In a nearby post, he wrote: "I swear I can still feel him laid over in my arms."
A Statement From Bronwen Murray:
I can't believe Brandon Hydrick is being buried while his killer is kicking back at the vacation home of his mother on Smith Lake. The murdered man, Brandon, was the love of my life.
The evening he was shot we were on my family's farm. We roasted marshallows and hot dogs over a camp fire, something we did often on nice evenings.
Brandon was only 26-years-old when he was shot to death, and what makes it so tragic is all of the life he had ahead. Now he will never know the joy of having children and raising them, he will never again experience his favorite past-times hiking, running marathons and canoeing outdoors, or spend another holiday with his family.
His killer, however, will be free to enjoy life and perhaps even shoot more innocent people. The district attorney told me that it will be at least 2 years before this goes to trial.
Concerned citizens may contact Judge Jerry Batts -- who made the decision to release Jody Moyers --- at (256) 233 - 8083.