An 8-year-old and a 9-year-old boy have been charged with shooting and killing a 62-year-old South Carolina man who was riding his tractor through a field, local police said Saturday.
The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has filed a petition to the family court that the boys, who are not being publicly identified, be charged with involuntary manslaughter in last month’s death of Danny Andrew Smith, Sheriff Mike Crenshaw said in a statement.
On June 23, Smith’s wife reported him missing after he went out bush hogging, but never came home, according to officials.
Police eventually found him “slumped over the steering wheel, unresponsive,” on the tractor, which had slid down an embankment and hit a tree, but which was still running.
An autopsy confirmed that Smith had died from a single gunshot wound to the back.
Through their investigation, police determined that the boys shot a .22 caliber rifle, which has been recovered, “in a reckless manner in the direction of Mr. Smith.”
It’s unclear which boy actually fired the shot but Crenshaw cited South Carolina’s “the hand of one is the hand of all” law in charging both boys.
Due to their age, the boys have been returned to the custody of their parents.
Police have not yet publicly released how the boys got the gun.