• An 8-year-old and a 9-year-old boy in South Carolina have been charged with allegedly killing a man
  • The 62-year-old victim was shot in the back once on June 23
  • Investigators charged both boys because they allegedly both fired the gun in the man's direction

Two boys, aged 8 and 9, have been charged in the death of a 62-year-old man, who was fatally shot in Oconee County, South Carolina, in late June, investigators said.

The victim, identified as Danny Andrew Smith, was allegedly shot with a rifle by the two children, who were not named, while he was out cutting down brush and riding his tractor in the field near Westminster on June 23, according to a statement from Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.

Smith was reported missing by his wife after she was unable to reach him, and local authorities were called to Coffee Road.

Officers found Smith slumped over the steering wheel of a running tractor and unresponsive. He had gone down an embankment, striking a tree, WFLA reported.

Smith was shot once in the back. But both boys were charged by investigators with killing the man because they allegedly both fired the gun in Smith’s direction, the sheriff 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,” Crenshaw said in the statement.

Crenshaw added that it has yet to be determined which shot hit and killed Smith, but based on South Carolina law, “the hand of one is the hand of all.” Thus, the Family Court was petitioned in regards to charging both boys with involuntary manslaughter, Crenshaw said.

Since both boys are under 10 years old and charged as juveniles in the Family Court, the identities of the children were not released. Under the law, they are both too young to be detained at a juvenile jail. Both were released to their parents as the investigation continues, WYFF4 reported.

Deputies have in their possession the .22 caliber rifle believed to have been used to kill Smith. Investigators did not reveal how the boys got their hands on the rifle and why they shot at Smith. It is now being examined by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Department forensics lab in Columbia.

An autopsy revealed that Smith had been shot six hours before his body was found. Additional details will be released as conditions and developments warrant, Crenshaw said.

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