A 90-year-old man was charged Monday with second-degree murder after he told police he shot and killed his oldest son over the weekend after the two argued over watching television at their Maplewood home.
Kenneth H. Bowser was charged in Ramsey County District Court with the death of Larry Bowser, who had lived with his father for at least the past decade. Larry Bowser, 65, had told neighbors that his father had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and that his condition was getting worse.
"When I first heard the age of the suspect, I was stunned," Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell said Monday. "As we look at that aging population … how do we protect them and how do we protect their families?"
Although police were called to the Bowser home several times in the past to provide medical assistance and check on the elder Bowser's welfare, there was no police record of conflict between the father and son, Schnell said.
The chief described Kenneth Bowser as "pretty frail."
According to the criminal complaint:
Police were called to the home in the 1200 block of Hilltop Court before 8 p.m. Saturday by Kenneth Bowser, who said he shot his son.
Officers arrested Bowser without incident. His son, shot once in his back, died at the scene. Police found a revolver in the home.
As officers sat with Kenneth Bowser after the shooting, he muttered several "spontaneous" statements. Among them: "He want to call me a bunch of names all week" and "If it hadn't been me it would have been him, it would be me or him," the complaint said.
Kenneth Bowser also told police he'd heard a story on TV about a son killing his father by setting him on fire; he was concerned the same could happen to him. He said his son also complained about caring for him.
Kenneth Bowser then told officers that he'd had a pistol in his bedroom drawer a friend had given him 20 years ago. He said he never fired it, but put it under his pillow.
Bowser said he was watching TV in his bedroom Saturday when his son came in and told him he wanted him to come to the living room to watch a football game with him.
Bowser said he wanted to continue watching TV in the bedroom and told his son to leave. When Larry Bowser later returned to the bedroom and started to remove the TV cables, Kenneth Bowser said he wanted to scare him by shooting in his direction, but instead the bullet struck and killed his son, the complaint said.
At that point, Kenneth Bowser called 911.
Schnell said the case was eerily familiar to another deadly shooting about 18 months ago, also in Maplewood, when an 84-year-old man shot and killed his 36-year-old son.
Pang Se Vang pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and died in jail in October 2014, one week before he was to be sentenced. Vang told his pastor on the morning of that shooting that he was upset because his son would not install cable television in the home.
Within the Maplewood Police Department, the Bowser case has ignited discussions on potential intervention techniques to try to curb intrafamily violence, Schnell said.
"Is there anything that can be done to try to minimize these type of things from happening?" he said.
Kenneth Bowser is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the charges Tuesday.