BEATRICE – A 26-year-old Beatrice man will serve a six-year probation sentence, in the shooting death of Alex Rader, December 31st. of 2020.
Brandon Long was sentenced to consecutive three-year probation terms for a terroristic threat and possession of a weapon in a felony, to which he pleaded no contest.

Gage County District Judge Rick Schreiner said the crime was something that could have been avoided. He talked about the details of the investigation where Rader was standing outside Long’s home just prior to midnight, while Long, his fiancé and child were inside.

"I'm not ignorant of the fact that a life was lost in this matter...I'm also not ignorant of the fact that Mr. Long feared an assault, was threatened with an assault and found an individual at the side of his house. Why Mr. Rader was on the side of the house at almost midnight is one the questions that I have....why?
The judge said it was an emotional case, that was “litigated on Facebook and other social media by those who don’t have the facts”.

The judge, noting that Rader’s family suffered a great loss, said he cannot “make everything okay for everybody.” But he said his decisions are guided and bound by the law.  "One thing I did not get when those powers were bestowed upon me, is the power to make everything okay for everybody."

Long was a former Nebraska Department of Corrections employee with a college degree and had little if any criminal history. He was deemed a low risk in several areas.

Judge Schreiner spoke about the facts of the case as he addressed motive. Those included Long and his fiancé hearing noises outside their home. Long went outside with a nine-millimeter handgun, seeing a man standing by his home in a tan coat and a facemask that Long described as having a “clown face.”

"Mr. Long says he was startled by that, pulled the trigger, and fired one shot. The individual standing by the side of the house was hit, ended up falling to the ground. (Long's fiance) came out. Mr. Long asked her to call 911. She didn't do so. She immediately started tending to the individual on the ground. Mr. Long called 911. (Long's fiance) recognized the victim as Alex Rader. She also admits that at the time, Mr. Long didn't recognize him....didn't know who it was, that he shot."

Schreiner said the investigation showed Long’s fiancé had been involved in a relationship with Rader. The judge also said Long had received anonymous text messages threatening him harm.  "They stated they know where he lives, they know what his license number is, what his car looks like....theatened to beat him up and it would be terrible if he and his car ended up in a ditch. Mr. Long, in his statement, says that those threats had an impact on his actions that night. He had reason to be fearful."

The judge said the main question that remains, is “why”….calling the incident “completely avoidable on both sides”.

Long said there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t think of what happened. "..and the effect my actions have had on so many people, Alex's family and my family. And, I just want everyone to know how sorry I am. And, if I could take it back, I would."

Gage County Attorney Roger Harris had sought a prison term, saying probation would minimize the loss of Rader’s life. Long’s Attorney, Benjamin Murray argued in favor of probation, based on the details of the investigation, the circumstances and the evaluation of the defendant.

Part of the probation sentence involved two consecutive 90-day jail terms, but Long received credit for 399 days spent in custody.  Security was beefed up at the Gage County Courthouse and in the courtroom Thursday, with family members of both Long and Rader in attendance.