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Grieving Billings woman describes pain after funeral for her teen son

Grieving Billings mom describes pain after funeral for teen son
Felicia Burg
Posted at 7:19 PM, May 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-08 21:22:42-04

The mother of 17-year-old Bryten Olson, who was stabbed to death April 20 in Billings, spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday, describing her painful struggles in recent weeks and her frustration with rising teen violence in Billings.

"I got a call basically right when it happened. You don't think it's going to happen to you, and then it does," Felicia Burg said in an interview with MTN at First United Methodist Church in Billings, where her son's funeral was held.

Burg's initial shock quickly turned to fear, as her son was in critical condition at the hospital.

"Total shock and worry," Burg said. "Just wanting to go get my kid."

Olson wound up dying in the hospital and the case was upgraded to a homicide investigation.

Olson was stabbed and killed in the middle of the street on the 300 block of Monroe Street. The stabbing incident led to a multiple-hour stand-off, with police detaining six juveniles, including a 16-year-old suspect, who is still in custody on unrelated charges.

Olson was one of two people stabbed in the incident. The other was an 18-year-old man who suffered minor injuries.

"It's super hard because just everything can change so quickly," Burg said. "I know he thought he was doing the right thing. He was trying to help a friend and he didn't expect this. It shouldn't be happening. It's senseless."

Burg said that Olson was trying to help his friend during a fight and that he didn't know the kid who stabbed him. Billings police confirmed that their part of the investigation has been completed and that the case has been handed over to the county attorney's office, which will decide whether to prosecute.

Olson's murder is among the latest in Billings involving teens. As the developmental director at Family Service, she sees a lack of support for teens that often leads to trouble.

"As a whole community, we're totally failing our kids," Burg said.

Burg's own experiences add to her concern. Just 12 years ago, she was battling homelessness herself.

Felicia Burg

"My boys were young, and we did struggle with homelessness," Burg said. "They do remember bits and parts of it. As a parent, you hope that you break those cycles."

It's a challenging cycle to break. Burg admits that she felt helpless at times as a single mother.

"When my boys hit a certain age and started acting out and dealing with certain things, there's not a whole lot of options," Burg said. "And this wasn't even an outcome of his own choices. The people that were involved, they didn't even know Bryten."

In the days that followed her son's death, Burg said that many have reached out to her offering their condolences. While she appreciates the gesture, right now, it isn't what she wants to hear.

"I want to hear about the good things and not all the bad things or how hard things are," Burg said. "I want to hear that they're going to college or that they got married. That's what I want to hear for them."

It's a cycle Burg said is exhausting, and one she's witnessed firsthand.

"We just gotta do better," Burg said between tears. "We have to. If we don't make change and make things better, then this was done for nothing."