'I still love him'
The last glimpse Tiffany Flyte Torres had of her uncle, Garry Flyte, was as he was placed into the back seat of a police cruiser last Wednesday night.
"I'm in total shock," Torres said about her uncle, who is accused of killing his Eldred Township neighbors, Jeffrey Place and Place's stepson, Steven Powell, at 6:50 p.m. Wednesday.
"But he's my uncle. I still love him," she said.
Torres, 23, who lives in Blakeslee, said that she was close to Flyte, who is her father Ray's brother.
As a kid, she and Flyte would watch television, visit McDonald's and just spend time together.
"Garry's not a bad guy at all," she said. "Before this, he never got in trouble."
If Torres needed help, he would come up and lend a hand. He liked working on cars and motorcycles, she said.
However, Torres said, "He does have a temper. He does have a very, very bad anger problem. But I never expected him to hurt anybody. This was a complete and total surprise."
Torres said she didn't know what prompted Flyte to take his great-grandfather's shotgun, walk over to his neighbor's house and start shooting.
In addition to killing Place and Powell, who died on the operating table at Pocono Medical Center, Flyte also shot the family's German shepherd, Cam.
Police said Flyte then went home, put the gun on the couch and walked back over to the Place house, where he called 911 to report that he had shot three people.
"I know him and Jeff always had their little ins and outs, arguing. Neighbor disputes. But I never thought of my uncle killing him," she said.
Garry Flyte is a reserved man, Torres said.
"My uncle really didn't talk much," she said.
His tendency to "bottle up" his feelings increased after the deaths of his parents. His mother died in 2000 and his father a few years ago, Torres said.
"With everybody saying my uncle was a sick man ... he wasn't sick. He didn't talk about his problems. He just kept everything bottled up inside until he exploded," she said. "When his father passed away, he became very distant, very quiet. He stopped talking about everybody. He just let everything bottle up."
Torres would call and ask if he wanted to talk.
"I had a feeling something was wrong, but I could not force him to open up," she said. "I feel horrible for the other family."
Flyte, a truck driver whom another relative said was about to lose his home to foreclosure, had been out of work, Torres said.
She disputes accounts of her uncle having a drug problem or mental illness.
"I honestly do not think my uncle was on drugs, I don't. We never had any issues with my uncle being schizophrenic," she said.
"My uncle always had a job to support him and my aunt," Torres said.
She said she doesn't worry about her 3-year-old son being around Flyte.
Torres said her aunt, Patricia, Flyte's wife, "is still in shock. They had been neighbors for years. She's dealing with what my uncle did, and she's also worried about (Place's wife), Wendy."
About two weeks ago, Torres was visiting her godparents, who live down the road from Flyte. Her uncle saw her and asked if she would give him and Patricia a ride to the grocery store.
"He was talkative, happy. There was nothing out of the ordinary," she said.
She and her family will not attend Place and Powell's funerals on Monday.
"I know what my uncle did was wrong. I'll wait to see if they come to us, and that's when I'm going to apologize for everything."