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Suspected robbers shot at high-stakes Raleigh poker game

Posted July 26, 2011
Updated July 29, 2011

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— Two men who police believe were trying to rob people at a high-stakes poker game in Raleigh late Monday were shot during a struggle, and one died, police said Tuesday.

Officers responding to a reported robbery at 4809 Sweetbriar Drive, off East Millbrook Road, shortly after 11 p.m. found Brandon Dwain Shelton, 28, dead inside the house, and Brian Matthew Onley, 23, lying on the lawn with a gunshot wound in the arm.

Witnesses told investigators that two men burst into the home wearing masks and carrying guns in an attempt to rob several poker players. A struggle ensued, and the two intruders were shot, police said.

"Both of them had hoods on and ski masks on," a man who called 911 told a dispatcher. "(One) was shot with his own gun."

Neighbors said the homeowner, Gregg Maluchnik, frequently hosted poker games and that Monday night's game was advertised as high-stakes.

Maluchnik, who played baseball at Duke University and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1998, was charged with a misdemeanor gambling offense.

Raleigh police said they haven't been called to the home previously, and neighbors said the poker games usually were quiet affairs that drew crowds but never caused any problems.

"I have seen a number of cars, like something was going on," neighbor Jim Durnin said, adding that he thought it was an occasional Tupperware party.

Neighbor Caren Freundlich said she heard as many as five gunshots late Monday.

Suspected robbers shot at high-stakes Raleigh poker game Suspected robbers shot at high-stakes Raleigh poker game

"I was hoping it was fireworks," Freundlich said. "I just always tell my kids that this is a safe neighborhood. It's really unsettling that it would happen right here."

Onley, of 4500 Boxwood Road, was taken to WakeMed for treatment of his wound. Upon his release Wednesday, police charged him with 11 counts of armed robbery and two counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He was being held in the Wake County jail under a $1.15 million bond.

Police declined to say whether the men were shot with the same gun or identify who pulled the trigger. Investigators said they are still interviewing witnesses and haven't decided whether anyone will be charged in the shooting.

Shelton served almost two years in prison for 2007 convictions for assault inflicting serious bodily injury and common-law robbery, according to state Department of Correction records. He also has been convicted of larceny and possession of stolen goods in recent years, records show.

Onley was placed on probation last fall after being convicted of assault inflicting serious bodily injury, according to Department of Correction records.


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  • ochov Jul 28, 2011

    It is ridiculous that some commenters are trying to blame the homeowner for any of this. As if he was intentionally attracting an unsavory element into the neighborhood. That is BS. All of the people who were INVITED to the game are decent, hard-working folks who are having fun together. How is the homeowner supposed to be able to predict UNINVITED and ARMED robbers will come to his house? Those of you who think that "poker" and "guns" automatically go together are way out of the loop. This is not the wild west. Decent people have the right to expect to be able to gather together to have fun without being robbed. The homeowner has done nothing wrong, and in fact is always a friendly and gracious host.

  • jervin6 Jul 28, 2011

    Scare crow: Actually I do read the news. Isn't it obvious since this is a "news" site. I wasn't stating the law had not passed only pointing out this was a clear example of why it should be passed for those that would argued against it and since the new changes in this bill do not come into effect until Dec.1st, the current laws still apply to this case.

  • CSA2.0 Jul 28, 2011

    Support you local "Castle Doctrine" and do what you want with your money in your house. Gregg Maluchnik is the "surviving victim" here... not the other way around.

  • scarletindurham Jul 28, 2011

    R.I.P Brandon Shelton- That was like my uncle, he was a good man, he jus had his ways. samboney93

    If his ways included violence, this can't be much of a surprise to you. It is unreasonable to expect people to have sympathy for a man who commits violent crimes against innocent people. He got what was coming to him.

  • carole Jul 28, 2011

    To those who keep asking me "what if it were my son or daughter" and saying that you raised yours better than to do something like this.....My response to all of you is this - I happen to know for an absolute fact that Brandon was raised in a Christian home by loving, caring and supportive parents and grandparents. He was taught the right path to take, he was not raised to commit crimes of any nature; however, with that statement being said, no matter how well you bring your children up, you, the parent, cannot help or control how they act as an adult. They make their own choices and sometimes, like with Brandon, they are not good choices. I know personally how much his family loved him and tried to help him. No one can say what was going through Brandon's mind at this point that made him commit this crime. Only he and God know that, and only God can judge him for what he's done. My sympathies are for his family left behind, having lost what was once a very loving, amazing little boy.

  • md4456 Jul 28, 2011

    Anyone who feels sorry for these two crooks needs their head checked. They had families? So what? No one made them break into a house and try to strong-arm the people inside with a loaded gun. They put their own lives at risk, it's no ones fault but their own. If you live by the sword, sometimes you die by the sword. The dead man was a career criminal who had robbed people before, had been convicted of violent crimes, and broke into someones house with a loaded gun. His death isn't a loss to society. The only loss to society here is our tax money that will be used to try the other scumbag who (lucky for him) caught one in the arm.

    Things like this are scary and no one likes to see them happen, but it's reality and the fact is another violent criminal is dead and another is going to prison for a long time. Good riddance.

  • casoucie Jul 28, 2011

    Samboney93, if it was my son, brother, uncle, father, sister, mother, etc. I would be sad, BUT THE FACT IS THEY ASKED FOR IT
    AND I WOULD FEEL SORRY FOR THEM... In fact I have an uncle that will steal anything he can get his hands on and he would be better off in jail or hell, PEOPLE ARE TO WORK FOR WHAT THEY NEED IN LIFE NOT STEAL, ROB, KILL.....

  • jordan1 Jul 27, 2011

    And to address the "evils" of poker: as the story states, there was never a problem with the game. It was a well-run, friendly game with a good group of people. Gregg, the homeowner, is a great guy that went out of his way to be a great host. He didn't host the game to profit from it. There was always food and drinks available to all players and the atmosphere was as inviting as can be. The robbers broke in because there was money there, not because there was poker. They were not disgruntled players that had lost their money.

    Poker is a game of skill that rewards good play. It's no different than playing basketball or golf- you may get a lucky bounce or hit an improbable shot, but the better players win in the long run. The only difference is that poker inherently requires money to be at stake. Everyone that plays in the game does so willingly, with the full knowledge that they can win or lose their money. You can get up and leave at any time. To criminalize playing it is fascist.

  • samboney93 Jul 27, 2011

    R.I.P Brandon Shelton- That was like my uncle, he was a good man, he jus had his ways. Everybody has struggles and makes mistakes but it honestly breaks my heart that people on here are rejoicing that he is dead. What if that was your brother, son, daddy, or family member?! You should be ashamed of yourselves. And I dont think he would have shot nobody, I just think that was a scare tactic so he could get the (illegal) money being tossed around in the home..but I'm not saying he was right for committing the crime, I just think people should think before they jump right to judging... because in the book I read, "only God can judge". I love you B :) -Samantha Allen

  • as400_guru Jul 27, 2011

    jervin6, you must understand the liberal mindset. It is more important for law abiding citizens to NOT have weapons and NOT protect themselves than it is to have weapons and protect yourself. To liberals, these 2 yutes were misunderstood and should be able to take all of YOUR money and shoot YOU. That said, I am sure they would think differently if these gentlemen but broke into THEIR home and threatened THEM and THEIR family.

    I used the word "gentlemen" because I originally had 4 letter word starting with "T" and ending with "HUG" and got the following message "...but we've found a word or a combination of words that could potentially be considered inappropriate to some of our visitors..."