A South Carolina man suspected of killing his girlfriend, her parents and two of her nephews before shooting himself was locked in a custody battle and facing up to 25 years on a burglary charge, officials said Wednesday.
Bryan Sweatt, 27, who had an extensive criminal record, was out on bond and was supposed to appear in court on Tuesday morning, but he never showed, authorities said.
They next time they heard from him was when he dialed 911 later that day.
"I'm just stressed out and I'm about to take my life," Sweatt told the dispatcher in an eerily calm voice.
Authorities said Sweatt went to the Greenwood County home of his girlfriend Chandra Fields' parents and hid out for several hours, waiting with a large caliber handgun for people to come home.
Police believe that he executed Fields, 26; her parents Ronald Fields, 51, and Melissa Fields, 49; and her sister's sons, ages 11 and 9 — although he let four other children, including his own 7-month-old daughter, leave.
Officers were summoned to the home by Sweatt when he dialed 911 about 5:30 p.m.
"I need an officer at 2007 Callison Highway," he told the police dispatcher, with the sound of a distraught woman pleading with him in the background.
Asked by the dispatcher if he had a weapon, he answered "yes" and said it was a .44 caliber.
The woman could be heard crying and he told her, "Get in there." The call then disconnected as the dispatcher asked "What's going on?"
Police were on their way when a second 911 call came in, this time from a next-door neighbor.
"I just got four kids at my door that says someone just killed their mama," the caller said.
Coached by the dispatcher, the neighbor asked one of the children to describe what they saw.
"[Bryan] had a gun with him," a child said, going on to explain that she saw Sweatt put her mother in the back of the dining room and then heard a shot.
Police arrived and attempted to make contact with Sweatt. At about 7:30 p.m., the SWAT team entered the home and what they found will haunt them forever, said Sheriff Tony Davis.
"Once you see a horrific scene like this, it never leaves you," he said.
Ronald Fields and his wife had been shot several times in the upper body in their bedroom and bathroom. The young boys were found in a bedroom — 11-year-old Tariq shot once in the head and William shot twice in the head.
Chandra Fields was found with one bullet to the head in the same room as Sweatt.
The sheriff said the couple were not married but had a 7-month-old girl together. Chandra Fields also had two other daughters.
Police had been called to break up two arguments in the past but no violence was involved, he said. Before the murder-suicide, Sweatt was upset that she was keeping him away from their baby, Davis said.
Sweatt had an extensive criminal record, mainly for theft and burglary, "nothing of this magnitude," Davis said.
He was out on bond after being arrested early in the year and was due in court Monday.
"He was facing significant time," Davis said. "He didn't want to go to court."
Police believe he may have holed up in the Fields home as early as 1:30 p.m. They said it appears the victims were killed between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
When the four children who were spared — Chandra Fields' two older daughters, the baby and a friend — knocked at the door, Sweatt told them to go away.
The children said he told them everyone in the house was tied up, the 911 call revealed.
With help from the dispatcher, the neighbor tried to elicit details of who was inside the home. When they said the two boys were inside, her voice became choked with dread.
"Oh, Jesus," she said.
First published October 30 2013, 8:34 PM