An 8-year-old boy along with a 9-year-old boy have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a 62-year-old man in South Carolina.
The incident occurred on Wednesday, June 30. Oconee County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to an area just northwest of Westminster, South Carolina, after receiving a call from the man's wife saying she went to the property to look for her husband after not being able to make contact with him and still could not locate him, according to a press release from the Oconee County Sheriff's Department on Thursday, July 1.
When deputies responded to the scene, they were eventually able to locate 62-year-old Danny Andrew Smith. He was unresponsive and slumped over the steering wheel of his tractor, which was still running but had gone down an embankment before striking a tree.
Following an investigation, the Oconee County Sheriff's Office announced that a petition had been filed in Family Court charging an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy with involuntary manslaughter regarding the shooting death of Smith, according to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office.
"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," said Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. "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 regards to charging both juveniles with Involuntary Manslaughter."
Based upon evidence obtained during the investigation as well as from the autopsy, authorities determined Smith had sustained a single gunshot wound to the back, which ultimately killed him.
In South Carolina, juveniles under the age of 10 cannot be detained, so both of the 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," said the Oconee County Sheriff's Office. "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."
The weapon that was allegedly used in the shooting, a .22 caliber rifle, has been recovered and examined by the SLED forensics lab in Columbia, South Carolina.
It is not currently clear which boy pulled the trigger that killed Smith, but the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.