BENTONVILLE (KFSM) — Bond was set at $1 million for the suspect in a murder that took place at a Bentonville motel last week.
Walter James Bryan, 18, was given $1 million cash-only bond during a hearing in the Benton County Circuit Court on Monday, according to records from the Benton County Detention Center, where he is being held.
Bryan, of Rogers, is accused of killing 22-year-old Tyler Garska, who was found with a gunshot wound to the head at the Super 8 Motel on Walton Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 20). Police determined the shooting resulted from an earlier robbery.
According to police, officers were called to the motel after a housekeeper found a dead body in room 223 and called EMS. Upon arrival, police were led into the room by EMS personnel, who showed them the victim lying near a window with what appeared to be a bullet fragment on the windowsill.
The housekeeper told police she and a maintenance employee heard a loud noise about 8:30 a.m., but when they listened at the door, they heard what they thought was snoring. They believed the occupants were asleep and moved on, police said. The housekeeper went in about 11 a.m. and saw clothing. After confirming the occupants should have been checked out by then, she went in again about 11:30 a.m. That's when she spotted the body. She informed a front desk worker, who called 911, police said.
Video surveillance from the hotel showed six people entering a room, including Bryan, his sister Shayla Bryan, the victim, a friend of the Bryans and two other witnesses. The video later shows five people exiting the room, but Garska was not one of them.
Police first identified Shayla Bryan and spoke with her about what happened. She said her brother and Garska had been rough-housing while her brother was holding a revolver when she heard a gunshot and saw Garska fall. She said they left the room, and she didn't call the police because she panicked. Shayla Bryan was later arrested on charges of probation revocation and hindering apprehension. She is currently in the Benton County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond.
Police spoke with the other witnesses in the room, who told them various stories about how the shooting took place. Some claimed to hear Walter Bryan or Garska talking about playing "Russian roulette" with Walter Bryan's gun before it went off, while one witness said she saw Walter Bryan shoot Garska after they argued, police said. Some of the witnesses admitted they had been smoking methamphetamine before the shooting, according to police.
Witnesses told police that the gun in the shooting, along with an AR-15 rifle in the room, belonged to Walter Bryan, who said he had stolen them earlier that morning or the night before, police said. The witnesses told police Walter Bryan later "got rid" of the guns after the shooting. They also reported seeing Walter Bryan taking something from Garska.
Police later interviewed Walter Bryan, who admitted he took Garksa's jewelry from him prior to leaving the hotel room.
One witness went with the Bryans to a friend's house in Springdale, where she said Walter Bryan broke down crying, saying he was going to tell police that he shot Garska. But the friends encouraged them to say that Garska shot himself instead, according to police. Two witnesses said that Walter Bryan later threatened to harm them if they said anything to police about what happened, according to police.
Bryan faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery, intimidating a witness and tampering with physical evidence.