Son shot dead in dispute with dad; No charges filed after `lethal threats'.
BROOKFIELD - Patricia Stockmal is sure of two things: Her son is at peace and the demons that haunted him in life can't hurt him any longer.
Her son, Lawrence E. Carlberg Jr., 43, died Friday after his father shot him in the chest with a 9 mm handgun in the home they shared in Lakeland, Fla.
It is something Mrs. Stockmal said her ex-husband had warned her would happen.
Lakeland police investigating the case said they do not plan to charge Lawrence E. Carlberg Sr., 65, unless new evidence emerges. According to Lakeland police Capt. John Thomason, the men argued and the younger Mr. Carlberg "made lethal threats," after which his father, who uses a wheelchair, pulled a gun. Police believe the son then lunged at his father and was shot once at close range, Capt. Thomason said.
Family members said the elder Mr. Carlberg uses a wheelchair because of injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident.
But how the younger Mr. Carlberg died is only part of his story.
His sister, Shelly Maher of Oxford, said she remembers her brother's troubled past, the arrests, his difficult marriage and his on-again-off-again affair with alcohol. But there are other memories, of a different person, too.
"When he wasn't struggling with drinking, he was a great guy," she said. "He lived with me for a while. I went to AA meetings with him and I tried to help him. He was getting coins and he worked hard to be sober."
Mrs. Maher said she trusted her brother completely and he followed the no-drinking rule at her house. He made memories with her children, eating nasty-tasting Sour Patch Kids candy with one of her daughters, who mentioned that and the laughs they shared when she wrote in her uncle's online guestbook attached to his obituary.
"He was a good father who loved his kids," she recalled, adding that although his marriage was rocky and eventually ended, his children and stepchildren always loved him. They, too, shared memories online, including the time one was learning to ride a bicycle.
Her brother, who grew up in North Brookfield, was popular, had plenty of friends and even though his drinking sometimes landed him in physical tussles with police, officers generally liked him once the alcohol wore off, she said.
His mother laughed recalling that he told her he had once joked with an officer saying that when he drank he "broke out in handcuffs."
Mrs. Stockmal said she knew her son was foundering in Florida, drinking again and maybe using drugs. She knew the relationship between her son and his father, whom she divorced 40 years ago after a rocky five-year marriage she categorized as abusive, was not good. She said her former husband also has a drinking problem and he'd recently called her and made threats against her son, who'd been arrested in Florida in 2011. The father had an injunction forbidding the son from going near him, but then he allowed his son to move in with him.
"Three weeks ago he (her son) called me and I told him to come home," she said. "He asked me if I remembered the white church they used to go to in the center of town and he told me, `I found my Bible,' and he started crying.
"He just couldn't fight those demons," she said.
The night he died, she said, her husband called and told her he'd shot their son and that she'd better call the hospital. She said she heard no remorse in his voice.
Attempts to contact Mr. Carlberg Sr. for comment were unsuccessful.
While teachers told her that her son had had outbursts in third grade, she attributed it to his exposure to the bad marriage she and his father had. He started drinking at a young age and while she tried, his love of alcohol seemed unbeatable, she said, adding that parents who see potential problems with their young children should take action. When her son started drinking, she said, she had no idea that alcoholism can run in families and that he might be showing early signs of trouble.
Still, when he was a child, her son saw an elderly neighbor wrestling with a lawn mower and he walked over, took the mower and cut the grass, she said.
His sister said that if he'd come across an elderly person needing help, he'd never leave them until he knew they'd be OK. He had a heart of gold, she said.
And it is that part of his multifaceted personality that they believe kept him in Florida caring for his father, complaining to his nurses when they didn't properly clean him up and making sure he had what he needed, in spite of their incompatibility.
Family members said they don't doubt the father and son fought Friday night, though they don't believe a gun was needed to end the argument. While the two didn't get along, they don't believe Mr. Carlberg Jr. would have hurt his father.
"They came up about two years ago and I let him and his father stay with me," said Mrs. Maher, who has a different father.
"And I watched him count his father's pills out and run to the store to get him the kind of ice cream he wanted. That's how my brother was."
Contact Kim Ring at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter @kimmring
CUTLINE: Mr. Carlberg