BENICIA (KPIX 5) – The arrest of 16-year-old Nolen Buchanan has shocked people in his hometown of Benicia. Nolen is accused of killing his family at their cabin in the Sierra Foothills before burning the cabin down.
“A lot of people didn’t want to believe it when it came out. When he was arrested, it was shocking,” said Azia Lualhati, a junior at Benicia High School.
News of the arrest has also stunned the small town of Cool, near the family’s cabin. “It’s pretty sad to see his life pretty much over as well,” said Angela Ingram of Cool.
People who knew him said Nolen was a well-liked kid and a model citizen. But detectives took the teen out of class at Benicia High School on Thursday and arrested him.
“He has been acting fine, almost like like nothing happened. It was odd to see that,” said Domanic Lucero, also a junior at Benicia High.
Azia recalled, “When he was in school, he came with normal clothes and had a haircut.”
Investigators say Nolen killed his father Adam, his father’s fiancée Molly McAfee, and his 7-year-old half-brother Gavin.
Prosecutors believe he shot them with a .22 caliber rifle at the cabin and then tried to destroy the evidence by burning the cabin down.
“There was a little bit of fear and anxiety in the air,” Ingram recalled.
With the arrest, fear has now turned to curiosity.
“Could be something as simple as jealousy, feeling left out or something,” Ingram said.
No one knows why, and detectives aren’t releasing a motive.
“If he did it, if he killed the mom and the boy, I don’t care how old he is. He needs to pay for it,” said Cheryl Powers, who works in Cool.