Walhalla, SC – The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is charging an 8 year old and a 9 year old with Involuntary Manslaughter in relation to the shooting death last week of 62 year old Danny Andrew Smith.
“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.”
Sheriff Crenshaw goes on to say that under South Carolina law, juveniles under the age of 10 cannot be detained so both juveniles have been remanded to the custody of the parents as the judicial proceedings continue.
No information was released that would identify the juveniles. Also, no information about motive or where the firearm was obtained was revealed.
The weapon, a .22 caliber rifle, was recovered and examined by a forensics lab in Columbia.
According to a Sheriff’s Office release from last Thursday, deputies responded to 1490 Coffee Road on Wednesday evening of last week after Smith’s wife went to the property looking for her husband after not being able to make contact with him. Deputies responded to the scene and located Smith slumped over the steering wheel, unresponsive, on a tractor that was still running but had gone down an embankment striking a tree.
According to the autopsy, Smith had sustained a single gunshot wound to the back.
“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 premeditated, 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, then that is considered involuntary manslaughter.”
“We don’t know at this point 100 percent if they actually knew him,” Sheriff Crenshaw said.
“This was a tragic loss for the Smith family and it became even more heartbreaking when we learned that he was shot by an 8-year-old and a 9-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.”