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FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2007

Randall Usery's trailer with the bicycle that started Tuesday night's brawl lying in the front yard.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Randall Usery's trailer with the bicycle that started Tuesday night's brawl lying in the front yard.

A 'slobber knocker' in Elkmont
Families have different versions about fight that led to 11-year-old boy shooting cousin

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ELKMONT — According to a witness, the family feud that ended in an 11-year-old boy shooting his cousin was a fight that started as a "toe-to-toe slobber knocker."

"Brian and Randall were using fists," said the witness, Stephen Powers. "No one had a stick or pipe, as the cops have said, and Brian ordered his son to shoot."

Not so, said the shooter's mother and Brian's wife, Janice Usery.

Brian Usery, 34, and Randall Usery, 37, are cousins who live less than a mile from each other on Thomas Road in Elkmont. The two are involved in an ongoing family feud.

"My son did have his shotgun, but I ordered him to stand on the hill and watch and see if anyone pulled a gun on his father," Janice Usery said.

Her son, however, did not stay on the hill, and what occurred after that depends on who is telling the story.

Due to legal ramifications, The Daily could not print all the details both sides provided, but here are summaries of each side.

n The feud according to Powers, who said he is speaking on Randall Usery's behalf:

Both families have sons who bike and fish together.

"The kids get along just fine," said Powers, who lives in a mobile home near Randall Usery. Powers is a friend who moved here from Arkansas.

Powers said the two cousins had a verbal altercation two weeks ago. Powers said that ended in Randall Usery telling Brian Usery to "get back up the hill and stay gone."

Powers said because both families' children play together, Randall Usery's son left his bicycle at Brian Usery's home. On Tuesday night, Brian Usery left the bike in the roadway.

"I was driving a Ford Taurus, and it was dark and the bike is black," Powers said. "Thankfully, I saw it, or I would have hit it and tore up the bike and the car."

Powers said Randall Usery had no room for the bike in the car, so he put the bike in a ditch at a cotton field near Brian Usery's home.

That led to the cousins arguing by phone over the bike.

Powers said Brian Usery told his cousin, "I'll whoop you like I did years ago." Powers said Randall Usery replied, "Come on, big boy."

Brian Usery and his son walked to Randall Usery's yard. The men verbally argued and then got into a fistfight that went down the driveway and into a patch of clover. Powers said Randall Usery was getting the best of his cousin, so Brian Usery allegedly ordered his son to shoot.

"I went to get the gun from him, and he pointed it at me," Powers said, of the son. "I backed up, and went and helped Randall into a chair and tied a tourniquet around his leg. He has a hole in his calf about the size of a fist."

n The feud according to Janice Usery:

The feud goes back several years, she said, to when her family rented Randall Usery's family a mobile home and later asked them to move out of it. Four years ago, her family reported threats Randall Usery allegedly made against them.

Tuesday's fight started, she said, when Randall Usery called her cell phone.

"We were watching a movie when he called and told Brian to come down there and fight him," Janice Usery said.

She saved Randall Usery's message and played it for a Daily reporter. On the profanity-riddled voice mail, left at 9:52 p.m., Randall Usery said he did not appreciate Brian Usery putting his son's bike in the middle of the road. He said if Brian Usery wanted a fight to "come on, I'm ready."

Janice Usery said her son stood with his shotgun on a hill between the two mobile homes.

"Yes, he had his gun, but I did not tell him to go down there or to use it," she said.

Her son did go to Randall Usery's home, however, and got scared when he saw Randall Usery allegedly hitting his father with a stick or pipe, she said. Her son fired, meaning to hit the ground.

"When he realized he'd shot Randall and not the ground, he started crying and apologizing," Janice Usery said. "My husband got the gun. He helped Randall into a chair. He brought our son home and unloaded the gun. We waited on the law to arrive."

She said her husband has injuries from the fight.

"My husband has welts on his back and probably two broken fingers," she said.

Janice Usery said she now has gotten rid of all the guns in the home, and the guns will stay gone until her son is older.

Both sides said they may get restraining orders.

Limestone authorities charged the boy with second-degree assault, and Brian and Janice Usery with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor.

Randall Usery is in Huntsville Hospital, and likely will have to undergo skin grafts, said Powers.

Sheriff's Department Chief Investigator Stanley McNatt said authorities did not recover a stick or pipe, but McNatt said Brian Usery did have welts consistent with getting hit by a stick.

He said there is no record of Brian or Janice Usery making a report against his cousin for allegedly making threats four years ago.

McNatt said Randall Usery and Powers were intoxicated at the scene.

Brian Usery was not, he said.

McNatt said he is satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, and both sides can "tell their stories before a judge when the case goes to trial."

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