Crime & Courts

Palmer teen fatally shot 4 family members, including 2 young cousins still in bed, charges say

An 18-year-old went on a shooting rampage early Monday, killing four of his family members — including two children — at their homes in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, charging documents said.

Malachi Maxon now faces multiple first-degree murder charges. He was released from jail a week before the shooting spree and was on electronic monitoring following an arrest for a family assault, the charging documents said.

Alaska State Troopers said they were called to a home in the area of Sylvan Lane and Hollywood Road, near Wasilla, just after 3 a.m. Monday. When troopers arrived, they discovered that 18-year-old Cody Roehl had been shot but was still alive, according to a sworn affidavit filed by Alaska State Troopers investigator Ted Nordgaarden.

“Roehl was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries,” the affidavit said.

One of Roehl’s family members told investigators that Maxon had been at the house earlier in the night and when they went to bed, Nordgaarden wrote. Maxon is cousins with Roehl.

“There was no altercation, verbal or physical between Maxon or any member of the family,” the affidavit said.

Roehl’s family member heard a loud noise downstairs and saw that Roehl had been shot on the couch, the court document said. Maxon was no longer in the home and a white Jeep Liberty was missing from the garage along with a semi-automatic Glock pistol, according to the affidavit.

Video from the home showed the Jeep leaving around 3:05 a.m. Investigators located Maxon on the 300 block of North Valley Way in Palmer about a half hour later, the affidavit said. The Palmer Police Department received several reports of gunshots in the area around the same time.

When officers arrived, they found the front window of an apartment had been broken, the affidavit said. Inside, 43-year-old Kimora Buster was dead on the floor, investigators said.

Seven-year-old Ellison Buster died in his bed of gunshot wounds, the affidavit said. His 10-year-old sister, Sienna Buster, had also been shot in her bed but was still alive, Nordgaarden wrote. She was taken to a hospital, where she died from the gunshot wounds.

Police found a 6-year-old child in the bed with Ellison Buster but said the child was not injured. There were more spent cartridge casings nearby, which investigators said indicated that Maxon was likely trying to shoot the 6-year-old, who was asleep near the wall.

Investigators said Maxon had been living with the Buster family for the last few days and Kimora Buster was his aunt. The affidavit does not indicate a possible motive for the shootings.

Troopers said they stopped Maxon around 4:07 a.m. while he was driving the Jeep on the Glenn Highway near Mirror Lake. He was arrested without incident, according to troopers.

While he was being moved from one location to another, Maxon tried to escape, the affidavit said. He grabbed a trooper’s pistol and tried to pull it from the holster but was subdued, Nordgaarden wrote.

Maxon was taken to the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. He is facing four charges of first-degree murder, a charge of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree theft, first-degree vehicle theft, third-degree assault and first-degree attempted escape.

The Buster family said they are grieving the tragic loss and started an online fundraiser late Monday to support the surviving family members.

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