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Charleston Daily Mail (WV)

November 27, 1996


BECKLEY – An argument between three relatives in eastern Raleigh County ended tragically when they were shot to death during a gunfight, authorities said.   Kevin Bragg, 21, of Irish Mountain Road instigated the Tuesday shootings, said Deputy Matt Jones of the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department.

Bragg, who suffered from a mental disorder and was taking Prozac, an antidepressant, got into an argument with his third cousin, Tony Bragg, about 4:30 p.m.  After threatening to kill Tony, Kevin went back to his house and got a shotgun, Jones said.

“He shot up his own house, then reloaded and went back up the hill,” Jones said.   Tony was standing on the tailgate of a pickup truck trying to unload a dead deer when Kevin shot him point-blank in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, Jones said.

Jones said when he arrived at the scene Tony was dead and Kevin and Tony’s father, Billy Joe Bragg, 58, were firing at each other.   “They fired 13 to 14 rounds at each other and were simultaneously killed,” Jones said.

There was no clear motive for the shooting. Deputies said relatives told them Kevin had admitted to taking LSD earlier and had been drinking.   “He became irate at the whole neighborhood, it appears,” said Detective Jim Bare.

Kevin suffered gunshot wounds to the mid-torso area. Billy Joe suffered shots to the leg and side.   All three bodies were transported to the state Medical Examiner’s Office in South Charleston for autopsies.

Two relatives of the victims who were unnerved by the incident were taken to Raleigh General Hospital, Jones said.   Detective J.E. Bare said today that Kevin Bragg was often in trouble with the law, and had been sent away for at least one mental evaluation in the past.

“We’ve had several calls on him,” he said. “I’ve been working here five years and can recall messing with him all that time.”   The detective said there have been few problems with the rest of the family.

Bare said that several times, Kevin Bragg had damaged his father’s home, and would flee into the woods before authorities arrived.   “He’d take off into the woods and hide out,” he said. “He knew the woods like the back of his hand.”

He said Kevin Bragg had assaulted people before, but had apparently never injured anyone with a firearm before Tuesday’s incident.

Copyright 1996, 2003 Charleston Newspapers
Record Number:  0FEAF7B10C11F400