BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — Witnesses to a fatal shooting that occurred in a Bentonville motel room last week gave conflicting accounts of what transpired during the shooting.
Walter James Bryan, 18, of Rogers was arrested Saturday morning on suspicion of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, intimidating a witness and tampering with physical evidence.
The arrest was made after Bentonville police interviewed Bryan, as well as his sister Shayla Bryan and a woman named Sara Stevens.
Shayla Bryan told Det. Cpl. Mark Jordan that her brother accidentally shot 22-year-old Tyler Scott Garska in the head while they were rough-housing in a room at the Super 8 Motel on 2301 SE Walton Blvd.
Shayla Bryan told Jordan there were a couple of “tweakers” in the motel room as well.
Shayla Bryan said her brother and Garska had been verbally messing with each other as they usually did and then started “roughly playing,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
“Next, I heard a gunshot and I saw my brother stand up quickly and I saw Tyler roll,” Shayla Bryan is quoted as saying in the affidavit.
Shayla Bryan said her brother “freaked out” and begged Garska not to die. She said her brother had told her that the bullets in the gun weren’t real, but that when she questioned him after the shooting, he said that the bullets weren’t made for that gun or that they were the wrong bullets. She wasn’t exactly sure what he said, but described the gun as a revolver, according to the affidavit.
Walter Bryan told police that Garska was playing Russian Roulette and shot himself in the head, according to the affidavit.
After the shooting, Walter Bryan took Garska’s ring, necklace, cologne and jacket. When questioned as to why he took those items, Walter Bryan said because they were personal.
“I told him [Garska’s] mom would probably want them (ring & necklace); he said he would give them to her,” Jordan said in the report.
Stevens was in the room and said she saw the shooting occur, according to the affidavit.
Stevens said that Walter Bryan put the revolver behind his head and pulled the trigger. She said he was playing Russian Roulette, the affidavit states.
Stevens said Garska tried to take the gun from Walter Bryan and that they wrestled around on the bed. She said the struggle between the two was “serious” and they were not playing around with each other. She said she heard Garska call Walter Bryan a demeaning name before Bryan shot Garska, according to the affidavit.
Stevens said after the shooting, Walter Bryan went to Garska’s body and bent over. She said he later told her that he took Garska’s ring.
“Sara said after the shot was fired, they all tried to leave but Walter made them stay until he gathered up some things,” Jordan states in the affidavit. “Walter was upset because they were rushing him and said that if he went to prison it would be there (sic) fault.”
Stevens told Jordan when they left the motel room, Walter Bryan made them cover their heads. She also said that he had stolen the revolver and an AR-15 from a residence, the affidavit states.
Stevens said that Walter Bryan later told her that he hid the guns.
“Sara explained that while driving to Walter’s mother’s house after the shooting, Walter told her she had better keep her mouth shut and threatened to harm her is she said anything,” Jordan said in the affidavit.
Walter Bryan was booked into the Benton County Detention Center. His bond was set at $1 million.
Shayla Bryan was arrested on Nov. 20 on an unrelated complaint.
She has since been taken into custody for a parole violation and faces a new charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution.
She is being held at the Benton County Jail on a $100,000 bond and her next court date is December 12.