OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office said a petition has been filed in Family Court in reference to charging an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old with involuntary manslaughter in relation to the shooting death of a man found on a running tractor in Oconee County.
We previously reported that 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.
“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.”
Under South Carolina law, juveniles under the age of 10 cannot be detained so both juveniles have been in the custody of the parents as the judicial proceedings continue, the sheriff said.
“With a charge of involuntary manslaughter, it has to be shooting in a reckless manner. So, we do believe they shot in the direction of Mr. Smith on the tractor, and not just shooting up in the air,” Sheriff Crenshaw said. “We don’t think there was any malice. We don’t think it was a premediated, that their intent was to actually kill Mr. Smith, but when you fire a firearm in the direction of another person, in a reckless manner, than that is considered involuntary manslaughter.”
Sheriff Crenshaw said it’s unknown if the boys knew Smith, as that is still a part of the investigation.
“We don’t know at this point 100 percent if they actually knew him, knew of him,” Sheriff Crenshaw said.
The Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation and the juveniles’ identities will not be released. The weapon, a .22 caliber rifle, has been recovered and examined by the SLED forensics lab in Columbia.
“This was a tragic loss for the smith family and it became even more heartbroken when we learned that he was shot by an eight year old and a nine year old,” Sheriff Crenshaw said. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Smith family. Danny had recently retired a couple of months ago. So, continue to pray for them in the days and weeks ahead. But, we also got to pray for these boys. you know they’re going to be obviously held accountable for their actions, as well.”
Based upon evidence obtained during the investigation, and from the autopsy, it was determined that Smith had sustained a single gunshot wound to the back.
Sheriff Crenshaw said the Solicitor’s Office and the Department of Juvenile Justice will petition Family Court for a hearing.