Three people have been charged in the shooting death of a 6-year-old child whose South Carolina home was mistakenly targeted in a drug smuggling operation, authorities said.
Winston O’Conner Hunter died in his own home on May 13 and his family had no connection to the arrested men, investigators said.
The men came to Orangeburg County from West Columbia to buy or steal drugs, Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said.
“It all comes back to marijuana,” Ravenell said. “Now Winston, 6, and his family’s home have been accidentally shot.”
The break in the case came last week when state agents were able to analyze photos of a car spotted near the house moments after the shooting and narrowed it down to a silver 2011-2014 Chrysler 200, a said Ravenell, according to the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg.
On Friday, law enforcement near New York saw a car matching the description, which led investigators to the owner of the vehicle in West Columbia and opened the case, Ravenell said.
Ethan Thorne Anderson, 19, of West Columbia was arrested on Friday and charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder, the sheriff said.
Michael Lloyd, 20, was arrested early Monday in Ontario, New York, and charged with murder. A 17-year-old is also in custody and the sheriff wants him charged as an adult.
Prison records did not indicate whether the men had attorneys to speak on their behalf.
The sheriff took the death of a 6-year-old boy personally in his own home.
“I promised them that the cowards who killed Winston would be brought to justice – ‘cowards’, just in case you missed it,” Ravenell said.