The shooting of two brothers in Abington highlights what can happen when people from any background have too much to drink. Nationally, guns were involved in about 1 in 25 incidents where alcohol was a factor, according to a study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Heather Brinkman was crouched next to her husband, frantically trying to save him, as the first police cruisers pulled up.
Minutes earlier, her husband, Paul Brinkman, had been shot in the chest and her brother-in-law, John Brinkman, shot in the leg.
Now, as police and ambulances arrived, the scene on Bates Street was chaotic.
“Why did he have to shoot them?” a person at the scene cried out.
“He shot them. ... I can’t believe he did this,” another shouted, pointing to a man standing nearby holding gauze.
The man, identified as Boston EMT Rhys Williams, was placed in handcuffs and later charged with assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building and carrying a firearm while intoxicated.
He would later tell investigators he shot the two brothers last Sunday after they came out to his parked car, where he sat, too drunk to drive after attending a benefit and a later after-party.
“I shot them. They gave me no choice. I shot them both,” he told police, according to paperwork filed in court.
The case highlights what can happen when people from any background drink too much and the near deadly consequences when guns are added to the mix, experts say.
“People are not thinking of the consequences when they are drinking heavily,” said Carol Kowalski, an administrator at High Point Treatment Center who has worked in the substance abuse treatment field for more than 30 years. “Their inhibitions are reduced.”
Nationally, guns were involved in about 1 in 25 incidents where alcohol was a factor, according to a study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
And about four in 10 violent crimes involved an offender who had been drinking, the study found.
In the Abington case, the double-shooting followed a night of drinking: first at the Norwood Elks where a benefit in honor of Mark Brinkman, the suspect’s former EMT partner who died in May, was held and then at an after-party at an Abington home.
Williams told police he drank three beers and a “Jack and Coke” at the benefit. Then, between 1 and 2 a.m., he gave Paul Brinkman a ride to the North Avenue home in Abington.
He told police, in a videotaped statement played during a court hearing Friday, that at one point during the night John Brinkman, a lawyer, asked him to convince two of his co-workers to drop or not testify in an assault case against Paul Brinkman.
Paul Brinkman of Hanover faces charges in Boston Municipal Court of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a shod foot, on two men: an EMT and a police officer. John Brinkman, in a taped statement also played in court, denied he asked Williams to intervene in the case.
Williams said initially he would see what he could do.
At the party in Abington, Williams said he drank five to six more beers along with three glasses of rum, he told police, according to paperwork filed in Brockton District Court and testimony by Abington police at a hearing.
One woman told police Williams was drinking from a Capt. Morgan bottle.
John Brinkman, in a recorded interview with police, said people at the party were sitting around, talking, telling stories about his late brother. Just a quiet get-together with friends.
Williams was the odd man out — no one really knew him and he seemed “a little off,” Brinkman said.
When the group donned hockey shirts to play a makeshift game at the house, Williams was too rough. When they were talking, he kept saying the wrong thing.
“He was just a little out of place. ... The kid was ruining a good time,” John Brinkman told police.
Then things got ugly.
Williams was “getting more and more obnoxious,” John Brinkman said.
Williams was asked to leave repeatedly.
“He was doing everything he could to stay,” Brinkman said.
Finally, Brinkman told the suspect he had a “big (expletive) mouth and if he couldn’t admit it, he should leave,” according to court paperwork.
Williams left and sat in his 2009 Subaru Outback parked out front.
An Abington police officer came by at one point and told him to leave after a jogger complained of being harassed.
He drove onto nearby Bates Street and parked. Around 7:30 a.m. he walked to Dunkin’ Donuts, got some coffee and walked back to the North Avenue house.
There, he told police, he went into the backyard and made a “smart-ass” comment to the Brinkman brothers standing on the porch. He wasn’t going to talk to any of his colleagues about Paul Brinkman’s case, he said.
“You can count out any help from me,” Williams said, according his videotaped statement.
Then he went back to his vehicle.
At one point that morning Williams said he had called Abington police, hoping they could help him get back home. But, after he was put on hold, the call was disconnected. A call back went into Williams’ voicemail.
Williams had made other phone calls early that morning. One friend didn’t answer. Another, Jacelyn Kilday, testified Friday that Williams told her “everyone at the party ganged up on him.”
“He was really scared,” she said.
She said he first called at 6:45 a.m. and then again about 15 minutes later.
She said he seemed “panicked and scared” on the phone.
Williams said he was sitting in his car shortly before 7:30 a.m. when Paul Brinkman came over, jumped on the car and began to smash the windshield, according to his videotaped statement and statement to police filed in court.
That’s when Williams said he took a Glock semiautomatic gun from his glove compartment, loaded it and put it between his legs.
Around the same time, John Brinkman and the Abington homeowner, Paul Keating, were standing at the driver’s door.
“Williams stated John threatened his life and was attempting to pull him out of the motor vehicle,” according to the report filed in court.
He shot once.
“I didn’t feel it but I felt the heat,” John Brinkman told police.
Then he heard a second shot.
“I looked over and I saw my brother staggering. ... He fell to his knees,” John Brinkman said.
Williams said Paul Brinkman then came at him and he shot him in the chest. Keating took the gun away and ran off, Williams said.
Williams said he then went to his trunk, took out his medical kit and began to treat the victims.
When police arrived, people were gathered around the wounded men — trying to stop the bleeding.
“It was chaos as I pulled up,” Abington Police Sgt. Kevin Force said.
John Brinkman was on the ground, blood soaking his jeans.
He was OK, he told police. “Go help my brother,” the Quincy attorney said.
John Brinkman was first brought to Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, then transferred to Boston Medical Center where he was treated and later released
Paul Brinkman remained in critical condition at South Shore Hospital Friday.
Rys Williams is behind bars after a judge ruled Friday he was too dangerous to be released on bail.
“This is so tragic,” Williams told police shortly after his arrest. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.