OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – An 8-year-old and a 9-year-old boy have been charged with killing a man who was shot with a rifle while cutting down brush in a South Carolina field, authorities said.
Both boys shot at Danny Andrew Smith with a rifle as he rode his tractor in the field near Westminster on June 23, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said in a statement.
Deputies responded to Coffee Road last week after a missing man’s wife was looking for her husband after not being able to make contact with him.
62-year-old Danny Andrew Smith was found slumped over the steering wheel of a running tractor. He was unresponsive and had gone down an embankment, striking a tree.
Smith, 62, was shot once in the back, but investigators charged both boys because they both fired the gun in Smith’s direction, 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,” says 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.”
The boys are charged as juveniles in Family Court and their names were not released. Under South Carolina law, they are too young to be kept at a juvenile jail so they were released to their parents, the sheriff said.
Deputies have the .22 caliber rifle used to kill Smith, but Crenshaw said investigators are not releasing how the boys got the rifle or why they shot at Smith.
An autopsy found he had been shot in the back about four to six hours before his body was found.