AUGUSTA – Gabriel Brady couldn’t stop his mother from being slain, but the 9-year-old’s quick reaction in the face of unspeakable circumstances likely saved the lives of his younger brother and sister.
For that, Brady recently became the youngest person ever to receive a bravery award from the Maine Department of Public Safety.
On an early January morning, Brady watched in horror as a man he knew only as his mother’s one-time boyfriend allegedly barged into his family’s Marshfield home and opened fire with a shotgun.
Amid the barrage of gunshots – one of which struck and killed his mother, Katie Cabana – Brady guided his 6-year-old sister and 5-year-old brother to a nearby bathroom and locked the door until the shooting stopped.
In the bathroom, the boy realized that a shot struck his sister, Autumn Rodgers, on the foot, so he wrapped it up to stop the bleeding. When police arrived and interviewed Brady, he told them it was his job to keep his younger siblings safe. Autumn Rodgers later was treated at a local hospital for the gunshot wound to her foot, but her injuries were not life-threatening.
“We were very pleased to honor him for what we considered a very brave act,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, on Friday. “To protect his brother and sister under those circumstances, that was something we felt was worth recognizing.”
Brady and a family member were in Augusta last week to receive the award from Public Safety Commissioner Anne Jordan and Maine State Police Col. Patrick Fleming.
“Actually, this is the second year in a row a preteen has received an award for saving a member of their family,” McCausland said.
At last year’s awards, McCausland said, an 11-year-old girl from Palmyra who watched a man shoot her older brother to death and reacted quickly to protect her baby sister, also was honored for bravery.
Brady, Autumn Rodgers and their brother, Ethan Rodgers, have been staying with extended family since the Jan. 23 slayings of their mother and another man, Aaron Settipani, 41, of Eastport.
The double-murder suspect, Richard Widdecombe Jr., 25, of Machias, has been held without bail at Washington County Jail since his arrest about 12 hours after the shootings. According to court documents, Widdecombe confessed to the killings, which were precipitated by jealousy that Cabana was spending time with another man.
Widdecombe already has been arraigned and indicted by a grand jury on two counts of murder. He is awaiting trial.