Ronnie Cairnes Sr. stepped outside the front of his Lancaster County bait and tackle store Wednesday morning when a bullet slammed into the head of the 56-year-old Fort Lawn man.
Within minutes, his twin brother, Raymond Cairnes, parked his blue pickup at the store, where a horse feed vendor was waiting. "He said he heard a shot," Raymond Cairnes recalled about the vendor. "He said he saw the rifle. He stepped back, and he saw Ronnie."
Raymond Cairnes went straight to his twin. "He was dead," Raymond Cairnes said. "He never knew what hit him. He was shot in the face and chest."
The family of the dead man, an avid horse lover with two children and two grandchildren, struggled Wednesday to accept that he was gone.
"My brother didn't deserve to be shot like this," an emotional David Cairnes said.
Ronnie Cairnes' son, Charles, added, "Nobody deserves this."
The shooting happened around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Cedar Creek Bait & Tackle at 5400 Cedar Creek Road west of Heath Springs. By the end of the day, two men were dead.
Shortly before the shooting call, police were investigating the discovery of the remains of a woman, whopolice believe was missing from North Carolina. That case now is being investigated by Kershaw County officals, police said. No other details were available.
In the bait and tackle shop case, Ronnie Cairnes Sr. died from a a single gunshot wound to the head and chest, Lancaster County Coroner Mike Morris said. Accused in the shooting was Darren Lee Winchester, said Jennifer Timmons of the State Law Enforcement Division.
Police used dogs to track Winchester, 46, who exchanged gunfire with officers who crouched behind their vehicles as he holed up in his former home near the tackle shop, officials said.
Winchester barricaded himself in the home that Cairnes' family members said he previously was evicted from. He remained there for nearly six hours Wednesday as the Lancaster County SWAT team tried to make contact with him.
After getting no response, police entered the house, where they found Winchester on the second floor with a gunshot wound to the chest, according to a release issued Wednesday night from SLED.
Preliminary autopsy results on Winchester are expected today, Morris said.
Family members said Cairnes was shot by a high-powered gun from across the street. Family and police contend there was a history of friction between Winchester and Cairnes.
"He's (Winchester) threatened him before and shot in the air around the store," said Tom Holland, a staff attorney with the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office.
Raymond Cairnes said the fatal shooting stems from a feud that started about a year ago, when Winchester came in the bait and tackle store drunk.
Ronnie Cairnes Sr. "told him that he didn't want a drunk in his store using foul language around customers," Raymond Cairnes said.
Since then, the friction has led to several calls to local law enforcement.
"He threatened my brother's life on many occasions in front of numerous people," David Cairnes said.
Police reports were not available Wednesday evening, but Holland said there had been at least one report. Winchester's criminal history reflects five charges of driving under the influence and simple assault and battery, according to SLED.
"He's been a bad neighbor," Donald Pate, 32, said about Winchester. "Because of him, my wife and I have bought some land and are moving. It (the shooting) is senseless."
On Wednesday night, a stunned family mourned Ronnie Cairnes Sr.
"He had a good heart," Raymond Cairnes said. "He worked seven days a week trying to have something."
His son's tear-stained face spoke volumes.
"He was a great dad to me," Charles Cairnes said. "Anytime I needed him, all I had to do was call. ... He's all I had. Now, I don't have anybody anymore."