UPDATE . . . UPDATE . . . UPDATE
Gary Flakes, who was convicted of being an accessory to the grisly shotgun slayings of Scott Hawrysiak and Andy Westbay on Valentine’s Day 1997, has ended years of silence about his role in the thrill-killings.
Flakes was 16 when he confessed in 1997 to driving up along the boys, who were walking home after an evening of video games at a friends’ house. Flakes stopped, letting Jeron Grant get out the car with a 12-gauge shotgun to kill the boys.
Flakes, now 31, commented after reading my Feb. 13 Side Streets column about the killings.
In an email to my Side Streets blog, Flakes wrote:
I accept the reactions for my actions. The families of Scott and Andy have more right to Justice than anyone.This is the constitution in which we have been created by the Creator. I pray that there is healing and forgivness.
Following is the blog as originally posted Feb. 13, 2012:
LAST OF THREE MUSKETEERS IS LOYAL FOREVER
Scott Hawrysiak, William Fortune and Andy Westbay, on the bed, were known to their families as the Three Musketeers.
William Fortune doesn’t much look forward to Valentine’s Day.
He’ll tell his girlfriend he loves her and all. But Feb. 14 doesn’t represent love and romance to William.
To him, it’s a terribly sad day. It represents the end of the Three Musketeers.
Fifteen years ago, late on Valentine’s Day 1997, his buddies _ 13-year-old Andy Westbay and 15-year-old Scott Hawrysiak _ were gunned down as they walked home from playing video games with a friend.
William was supposed to be with them. They did everything together. Their folks even called them the Three Musketeers.
Andy Westbay and Scott Hawrysiak
All for one.
“They were my two best friends,” William said last week. “I can’t think about Valentine’s Day as a day of love. I associate it with the deaths of my two best friends.
“It’s a day of mourning.”
And a day to wonder what might have been.
William knows that if his mother hadn’t been too sick to take him that night, he’d have been walking with Andy and Scott when Jeron Grant 17, and Gary Flakes, 16, drove up to them on Canoe Creek Drive in Cheyenne Meadows.
Andy Westbay and Scott Hawrysiak were shotgunned to death near the mailboxes on the right as they walked home along Canoe Creek Drive late on Feb. 14, 1997.
According to Flakes’ confession to police, he was driving Grant to their homes on Fort Carson when they saw Andy and Scott.
Grant told Flakes he wanted to kill someone “to get something off my chest.” He grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun out of the backseat, got out, said a few words to the boys and opened fire.
The first blast hit Andy in the neck. Scott ran as the shotgun erupted two more times, hitting Scott in the back of the head.
- About 600 people attended the funeral for Andy Westbay and Scott Hawrysiak and they were buried together. This was the scene Feb. 20, 1997, at First Baptist Church of Securty.
The killers drove off leaving Andy and Scott to die.
The killings caused outrage in Colorado Springs. Candle-light vigils were held for the boys. And the funeral at the First Baptist Church in Security drew an estimated 600 people. Many followed to attend graveside services as well.
Here’s an excerpt from the Feb. 21, 1997, Gazette:
“Hundreds of people huddled close in a bitter, driving snow Thursday at Evergreen Cemetery to say goodbye to lifelong buddies Scott Paul Hawrysiak, 15, and Andrew Michael Westbay, 13, brutally slain last Friday night by three shotgun blasts.
Jerome Grant in a 1995 photo when he was a high school freshman in El Paso, Texas.
“Andy’s uncle, Michael Westbay, acted as a surrogate dad while Andy’s father did a recent year’s tour in Korea for the Army. He told mourners:
“It was only last week that I had the opportunity to hug both boys and tell them that I loved them. This week, next week or in the weeks to follow, I will not have that opportunity. This was not just a loss for two families. This was a loss for the entire community. I hope, as time heals, their love will not be forgotten. They touched many in life and many more lives in death. These boys will not be forgotten.”
But neither was convicted of first-degree murder. Jurors, instead, convicted them of the lesser charge of accessory to murder.
Grant was freed on parole in 2008. But a year later he was caught with crack cocaine and sent back to prison for six years.
Flakes went to a halfway house in 2010, was paroled in 2011 and is free now.
Gary Flakes, 16, from a 1997 Fountain-Fort Carson yearbook photo.
He volunteers for Colorado Juvenile Defenders Coalition’s effort to stop prosecution of juveniles as adults.
Flakes also testified before state lawmakers last spring about the evils of solitary confinement.
Such activity rankles William, now 29, a college graduate and personal trainer who twice went to Iraq as a civilian contractor.
The last Musketeer has never forgotten his pals.
“I think about them everyday,” said William, who has tattoos with Andy’s and Scott’s initials on his arms, each with a star.
“They are my nautical stars for guidance,” he said. “I go to their graves every time I come home.”
William Fortune, 29
He’s glad Grant is back in prison. And he’s angry Flakes seems to protray himself as a victim in some way of unfair treatment.
“They ruthlessly murdered two kids,” William said, still loyal to his friends. “They should never be free.”
One for all. Forever.
William Fortune has the initials of Andy Westbay and Scott Hawrysiak tattooed on his arms and thinks about his friends every day.
Jeron Grant is back in prison for a drug conviction after his parole in 2008.
Gary Flakes volunteers for the Colorado Juvenile Defenders Coalition working to stop juveniles from being tried as adults and housed in adult prisons.