OCONEE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA — Two boys, ages 8 and 9, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a 62-year-old man in South Carolina. According to a press release, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called by the man’s wife on June 30th when she was unable to locate her husband at a property where he was working, just northwest of Westminster.
After some time on the scene, deputies were eventually able to locate 62-year-old Danny Andrew Smith. He was deceased and slumped over the steering wheel of a tractor that had gone down an embankment and struck a tree, with the engine still running when deputies came upon the scene.
Based upon evidence at the scene and the autopsy, it was determined that Mr. Smith’s death resulted from a single gunshot wound to the back.
Following an investigation into the incident, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office filed a petition in Family Court. The petition charges an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy with involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of Smith.
Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said, “After a consultation with the Solicitor’s Office, and based on the evidence obtained in our ongoing investigation, we believe that both juvenile males discharged a firearm in a reckless manner in the direction of Mr. Smith who was bush hogging on some family property. At this time, it is still undetermined which shot ultimately struck and killed Mr. Smith. However, based upon South Carolina law, the hand of one is the hand of all and that is why Family Court has been petitioned in regard to charging both juveniles with Involuntary Manslaughter.”
South Carolina law does not allow for juveniles under the age of 10 to be detained, so both of the juvenile suspects have been remanded to the custody of their parents as the judicial proceedings continue, according to Sheriff Crenshaw.
“The Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation and due to that fact, no information will be released that will identify the juveniles in this case. At this time, no information about motive or where the firearm was obtained will be released due to the ongoing investigation and any additional details will be released as conditions and developments warrant.”
A .22 caliber rifle that was allegedly used in the incident has been recovered and examined by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) forensics lab in Columbia, South Carolina.
This is where responsible gun ownership comes into play, and these young boys gained access to the firearm in some manner. Whether it was taken from an unsecured location or given to one of them by a family member, there is absolutely fault and negligence that happened at some point along the way.