BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The mother of the man charged with killing five bicyclists and injuring four others said her son would not intentionally kill anyone.
“He’s not a murderer. My God,” she told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday, before her son was charged with five counts of second-degree murder, as well as other charges.
The mother of Charles E. Pickett, Jr. spoke to 24 Hour News 8 through the door of her daughter’s home, but asked that we not name her.
She’s heard the speculation: Did her son do this on purpose? Did he intentionally plow into nine bicyclists, killing five and badly hurting the rest?
“No, he would never ever, ever do anything like that on purpose. Never,” she said.
She said her son had been at a funeral earlier that day for a cousin. An obituary shows that service was held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
But she said she doesn’t know where he was going or where he’d been before the crash, or why he’d been driving erratically.
When asked about a possible medical condition, she said: “Most definitely he has.”
“Physically, his body hurts a lot because he needs back surgery and stuff like that.”
She said she hasn’t had a chance to talk to her son since the crash.
“I know he’s hurting bad. I haven’t talked to him, but I know how he is. He’s never ever been in trouble or anything and then for this to happen. It was a freak accident.”
Pickett has no criminal convictions, though 24 Hour News 8 found an arrest for drunk driving in Tennessee five years ago, which later was dropped.
He has no criminal record in Michigan.
Pickett ran an auto repair shop in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, near Chattannooga until several years ago, according to a man who runs a nearby auto repair shop.
A Facebook photo dated 2012 shows him wearing a “Picketts Garage” shirt.
A long-time neighbor said Pickett returned to live with his parents about a year ago — toward the end of a two-track near Battle Creek.
“He didn’t do it on purpose,” said Clarence Mead. “I know he didn’t do it on purpose. I just know him. I know he didn’t do it on purpose.”
His mom said she’s hurting for the victims and their families.
“My heart goes out to them and I’m truly sorry,” she said. “I can understand their grief, and I hope they can heal.”—Online:Complete coverage of the Kalamazoo cycling tragedy