ST. JOHNS, Arizona: By all accounts, he was a good boy. No problems in school. No disruptions in his religious education classes at St. Johns Catholic Church, where he was to mark his First Communion this year.
So the police and neighbors in the 8-year-old's small eastern Arizona community are at a loss to explain why he would have used a .22-caliber rifle to kill his father and another man at their home.
"That child, I don't think he knows what he did, and it was brutal," said the family priest, the Very Reverend John Paul Sauter.
On Friday, a judge ordered a psychological evaluation of the boy. Under Arizona law, charges can be filed against anyone 8 or older.
"He had no record of any kind, not even a disciplinary record at school," he said. "He has never been in trouble before."
Romero was from a family of avid hunters and wanted to make sure the boy wasn't afraid of guns and knew how to handle them, Sauter said. The boy's stepmother had suggested he have a BB gun, the priest said.
It is not unusual in a state like many around the West with liberal gun laws for children to learn early how to shoot small animals in the company of their fathers. But it might have been too much for an 8-year-old, Sauter said Saturday.