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A feud carried too far
Bowling Green reacts to slaying of Caroline cattle farmer

 Frances Hurt, at the fence that her neighbor John Frederick Ames built, looks onto Ames' property yesterday. Ames is accused
of killing another neighbor, farmer Perry Brooks, in a dispute over one of Brooks' bulls that strayed onto Ames' Holly Hill farm.

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Date published: 4/21/2004

Fatal shooting shakes town

Frances Hurt thought little of the gunshots that broke the country quiet Monday morning in Bowling Green. She paused, but didn't stop reading her Lutheran prayer book.

"I heard a pop," Hurt said yesterday. "Then a hesitation. Then five pops in a row. Just pop pop pop pop pop."

She thought it was a hunter.

In town, two store clerks--who asked not to be identified--were listening to a crackling police scanner. An announcement came across. There'd been a shooting at Holly Hill.

Sure hope the feud between John Ames and Perry Brooks didn't escalate, they both remembered thinking.

Because in Bowling Green, a Caroline County town of 937 residents, the dispute between the bankruptcy lawyer and the vegetable farmer was no secret.

"They didn't just dislike each other," former Caroline Sheriff Homer Johnson said. "They hated each other."

A police source, who asked not to be identified, said Brooks went to Ames' cattle farm Monday with a man who once worked for him.

The man witnessed what turned out to be a fatal argument over one of Brooks' bulls that had wandered onto Ames' property.

During the argument, the witness told police, Brooks drew back a walking stick he was carrying.

Ames responded by shooting Brooks in the head and firing several more shots after the 74-year-old was on the ground, according to the witness' story.

"This is a nasty situation that is only going to get worse," the police source said.

Brooks, who owned a farm adjacent to Holly Hill, was found dead near a utility shed after authorities were called to Ames' white mansion on State Route 207.

Ames is charged with first-degree murder and using a firearm to commit a felony.

Monday wasn't the first time one of Brooks' bulls had gotten loose on the Ames property, according to court documents.

It happened in July 1994 and June 1995, leading to a $450,000 lawsuit against Brooks. That suit was one of six that were suspended by an August 1995 injunction. A Circuit Court judge then cautioned Brooks and Ames to maintain peace and order.

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