Friday, August 31, 2012

Greenville, SC: Saluda Dam Road shooting called double murder, suicide

EASLEY — Authorities are investigating what Pickens County Coroner Kandy Kelley said is a double murder and suicide at a home on Saluda Dam Road.

William D. Thomas, 61, is the suspect in the shooting deaths of his wife, Sandy Lee Smith, 42, and his stepson, Daniel Gabriel Smith, 15.

The mother and son died of gunshot wounds, Kelley said. Thomas shot himself, she said.

Deputies were searching for the gunman in the house at 2423 Saluda Dam Road when they heard a shot outside, said Pickens County Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan.

They found the body of the suspect near an outbuilding about 75 yards from the home, with a gunshot wound to the head, he said.

The teenager called 911 at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, and said that he had been shot, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He was found in a bedroom with a gunshot wound under his chin, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

His mother was found inside the house with a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Two fellow Easley High students who played with Daniel on the JV football team, arrived at the home shortly after noon to post a memorial.

“I’m just in disbelief,” said ninth-grader Josh Leisten. “It just hasn’t like set in yet.”

“He always just uplifted people. He just tried to make everybody laugh,” he said. “He had the most heart of anybody ever.”

They had played a game together the night he died, and “everything was normal,” he said.

They, along with a number of other students left school early, unable to concentrate on their schoolwork, he said.

There are “a lot of tears” at school as students and staffers grieved the loss

“I just want to assure the public that there is no gunman running around,” Morgan said.

He said that autopsies were being conducted Friday and some questions about the incident are beginning to become clear.

“We have some questions answered,” he said, referring to some preliminary findings from the autopsy.

“We’ve notified all the guidance counselors there, brought in guidance counselors from some other schools as well as grief counselors to talk to the students,” said John Eby, public information specialist for the School District of Pickens County. “The teachers have been notified. The students have been notified.”

Eby said, “I can tell you I was there this morning and there’s a lot of grief and a lot of tears there right now.”

Morgan said a gun had been found.

Clayton Smith of Easley, who said Sandy Smith is his sister, said she would have turned 43 on Saturday.

Clayton and Kim Smith said their sister had recently started a dog grooming business in Simpsonville.

Clayton Smith said she visited him at his home in the Arial Mill area about a week ago.

“She was pretty tied up in her business,” he said. “She came and talked to me about doing some stuff over at her shop for her.”

She was a horse lover and had owned horses since she was a teenager, he said. She had horses on the property.

Dan Thomas owned a produce business, which he operated there on the property, they said.

They said Gabe “liked camping, kayaking.”

The family had plans to take a trip to Tennessee this weekend, Clayton Smith said.

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