A 35-year-old forced his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son to leave his car as punishment before the child was struck and killed on a highway, sheriff says

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  • A 35-year-old man ordered his girlfriend’s 5-year-old child out of a car near a busy highway in Alabama on Sunday before the child was struck by another car and killed, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor told WTVM.
  • Taylor told WTVM that the child was described as being “unruly” and that Starr ordered him to leave the car.
  • Starr was charged with reckless murder, Taylor said.
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A 5-year-old boy was killed on a highway in Alabama on Sunday after his mother’s boyfriend forced him to leave the car as punishment for being “unruly,” a local sheriff told reporters on Monday.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor told WTVM that Bryan Starr, 35, who’s on active duty at Fort Benning, was charged with reckless murder.

Starr was driving on Highway 165 with the child, Austin Birdseye, when Birdseye became “unruly,” Taylor told the outlet. He said the boy’s mother was not in the car.

Starr pulled into a church parking lot and told the child to get out, the sheriff said. The boy then wandered onto the busy highway, where he was struck by another car and killed, Taylor told reporters.

Birdseye was pronounced dead at a hospital later that night, the county coroner told WTVM.

“I mean, who thinks to tell a 5-year-old to get out of a car because they’re being potentially loud?” Taylor told reporters. “I don’t think there is anything that would justify, in my mind, telling this child to get out of the car.”

Taylor said Starr was visibly upset when he spoke to authorities. He said Starr had been in a relationship with the child’s mother for the past few years, lived with Birdseye in recent years, and was a father figure in his life.

Starr, an Army sergeant first class, had one combat deployment to Iraq, Fort Benning told WTVM in a statement.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased,” it said.