Clearwater, Florida, Police Officer Jonathan Yuen was one of the first policemen to arrive at the crime scene—Tom Brennan’s apartment—the evening my youngest son, Kyle Brennan, died under very suspicious circumstances. When Officer Yuen was deposed, he was asked, “As a police officer do you find it a bit unusual that the person discovering a dead body, his son, does not call 911 right away?” He responded with, “Yes, that’s why we documented that in the reports.”
Yuen documented that unusual fact, yes, but there are plenty of other inconceivable—and contradictory—facts regarding the crime scene, especially those relating to the weapon and the ammunition that killed Kyle. Tom Brennan, Kyle’s father, for example, told varying stories regarding both the weapon and the ammunition.
According to Officer Yuen, he spent a short, short period of time interviewing Tom Brennan the night of the tragedy. During his deposition, Officer Yuen was asked whether he’d questioned Tom Brennan about the firearm found at the scene (a Taurus .357). Here’s Yuen’s response: “He [Tom Brennan] advised that the firearm was stored in a nightstand. It was in a little green military bag. He couldn’t remember—he couldn’t recall where the ammunition was, but he advised the gun was unloaded. Brennan also stated that he never told Kyle that there was a firearm inside the residence” (emphasis added).
When interviewed by Clearwater Police Detective Stephen Bohling, however, Brennan changed his tune. He told Bohling that the ammunition was stored inside the same green bag as the weapon. Then, when Tom Brennan was deposed by Attorney Ken Dander—the lawyer representing the estate of Kyle Brennan—his story about the weapon and the bullets became even more convoluted, even more fictitious. He stated under oath that he showed the Taurus .357 revolver to Kyle and his older brother Sean just prior taking them to a local firing range where the two boys fired it.
“How did Kyle react to shooting the revolver?” asked Attorney Dandar. “He liked it,” answered Brennan.
“How much ammunition did you buy for the revolver?” Dandar asked. “One box,” replied Brennan. “And I don’t remember how many rounds, but it was just a standard box. . . .”
Then, when Dandar asked, “Did you buy it where the firing range was located?” Tom Brennan responded with, “I believe so, yes.”
Dander next asked if the weapon was unloaded the evening Kyle died. “I honestly don’t know,” answered Brennan. “I don’t know what it was. I mean, the last time I used it was when we fired it in Ft. Myers [at the firing range] and I don’t know if it was loaded or unloaded.”
Was the ammunition stored in the same green bag? asked Dandar. “I don’t believe so,” said Brennan. “I believe it was stored in the opposite end table.”
Tom Brennan’s multitudinous contradictions are so confusing that it’s important at this point to recap all the different stories he told:
1) Tom Brennan told Officer Yuen: That the gun was unloaded; that the gun was kept in a green bag; that he didn’t know where the ammunition was; and that Kyle was not aware that there was a weapon in the house.
2) Tom Brennan told Detective Bohling: That he did know where the ammunition was; it was stored in the green bag with the weapon.
3) Tom Brennan stated under oath, in his deposition: That he didn’t know if the weapon was loaded or unloaded; that the ammunition was not in the same green bag as the gun—it was instead kept “in the opposite end table”; and, not only was Kyle aware of the weapon’s presence in the apartment, but Brennan himself had shown the piece to Kyle, just prior to taking Kyle and Sean to a local firing range. That’s where Brennan claimed he’d purchased the bullets.
Thankfully, Kyle’s older brother Sean brought clarity to Brennan’s ridiculous lies in a September 2010 sworn affidavit. He stated: “I know that Kyle, in fact, did have prior knowledge of Tom Brennan’s ownership of the Taurus .357 and knowledge of where Tom Brennan would have stored the weapon.” In 2005/2006 both boys stayed with Brennan in Fort Myers, Florida, for an extended period. Sean had just returned to the United States after serving overseas in the U.S. Army.
“One day,” Sean affirmed, “Kyle approached me holding a small cloth bag and said that he had found a gun in his father’s nightstand.” Sean first checked to see if it was loaded—it was not—then he identified it as a Taurus revolver manufactured in Brazil in the 1980s. When Sean later expressed his concern that his step-father had an unsecured firearm in his home, Tom Brennan said: “that he had no ammunition for it and was not planning on purchasing any since he had no interest in weapons and no intention of ever firing it.”
In the affidavit, Sean stated that Brennan did indeed take him and Kyle to a Fort Myers firing range, a place called Fowler’s. But, Sean certified, “we did not take the Taurus .357 from the house . . . I rented a weapon there, a Heckler & Koch USP .45, and Fowler’s provided the ammunition.”
Tom Brennan lied, of course, when he stated that he’d taken Kyle and Sean—and the Taurus .357 revolver—to Fowler’s where Kyle fired it and “liked it.” How was it possible for Tom Brennan to contradict himself on numerous occasions and yet never raise the suspicions of the Clearwater, Florida, Police Department?
There are many more peculiar and contradictory facts regarding the weapon that killed Kyle, the ammunition for it, the “green bag,” and the subsequent police investigation:
1) The Taurus .357 found at the crime scene had four unfired mag bullets and one casing in the chamber. Five more rounds were found in one of Kyle’s pockets. Interestingly, no fingerprints or ridge details were found on either the weapon or any of the cartridges including those in his pocket—not even Kyle’s fingerprints.
2) The box of ammunition Brennan claimed he’d purchased at Fowler’s was not found at the crime scene. Furthermore, the Heckler & Koch rented at Fowler’s is a .45 caliber handgun while the weapon that supposedly killed Kyle, the Taurus, is a .357 caliber revolver—the ammunition is not interchangeable. If there was any leftover ammunition from the range it could not have been used in the Taurus. (And Kyle could not have purchased the ammunition himself because he was only twenty at the time of his death. In Florida you have to be twenty-one.)
3) The green bag that Brennan stated he’d stored the Taurus .357 in was not retrieved at the crime scene by the police—it never showed up as evidence.
4) Also missing is the bullet that killed Kyle. Officer Yuen stated in his deposition that the medical examiners searched the Brennan apartment for it, but never found it.
5) Kyle’s Virginia family was initially told by Detective Stephen Bohling that a gunshot residue (or GSR) test was never done on Kyle’s hands. This turned out to be a lie. A GSR test was performed at the crime scene by forensic investigator Jennifer McCabe—but Bohling himself blocked the GSR information retrieved from being processed.
Without fingerprints on the weapon, without GSR test results from Kyle’s hands, and without the bullet that killed Kyle, we don’t know for certain who pulled the trigger or if the bullet that killed Kyle was from the weapon found at the scene.
There are so many glaringly contradictory facts regarding the weapon and ammunition that killed Kyle—and so many obvious lies were told by Kyle’s father, Tom Brennan—that any reasonable person is left dumbfounded and extremely suspicious. What’s the truth? Why would he lie?
Copyright © 2020 by Victoria L. Britton
Detective Jonathan/John Yuen-Clearwater Police Department
Detective Stephen Bohling-Clearwater Police Department(retired) current employer, Hillsborough County, Sheriffs Department.
Excerpts from the deposition of Officer/Detective Jonathan Yuen
Clearwater Police Report Excerpt: Officer Jonathan Yuen
Excerpts from the Deposition of Jonathan Yuen
CWPR Excerpt: Detective Steve Bohling
Excerpts from the Deposition of Detective Steve Bohling
Excerpts from the Deposition of Tom Brennan
Excerpts from the Deposition of Victoria Britton