Lancaster County authorities on Saturday were searching for a motive in a shooting the day before that left a man dead and his stepson facing a murder charge.
Robert Bethea, 74, died Friday after being shot four times, Lancaster County Deputy Coroner Marie Broome said. Bethea died in the center of his yard about 20 feet from his front door, she said.
One of the bullets hit Bethea’s heart, she said.
Police identified the shooter as Bethea’s stepson, James “Jimmy” Pruitt, 51, who was taken to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
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He was listed in critical condition Saturday morning, Broome said. No information on Pruitt’s status was available Saturday night.
Authorities say Pruitt lived in an apartment adjacent to Bethea’s home.
“We have a warrant for murder for his arrest,” Sheriff Barry Faile said.
Other charges may be pending against Pruitt, the sheriff said.
The shooting happened around 5:50 p.m. Friday at 11215 McAltine Circle.
The responding officer found Bethea lying face-up on the ground and saw a door close on an outbuilding that was later determined to be an apartment, Faile said.
A five-hour standoff followed involving Pruitt, the county’s SWAT team, the State Law Enforcement Division and other agencies, Faile said.At some point, Faile said, police thought they heard a shot.
“We entered the apartment about 10:15,” he said. “There was a white male lying on the floor with a self-inflicted shot wound.”
Authorities later identified that man as Pruitt. Faile declined to say where Pruitt shot himself; however, Faile said, Pruitt used a .38-caliber handgun.
No one else was in injured during the shootings, and no one else was in the apartment, police said.
“We’re waiting to confirm if the same weapon was used (on Bethea),” Faile said.
No police report documenting the shooting was available Saturday night, he said.
Exactly what sparked the shootings remains a mystery.
“We are still interviewing folks and trying to find out the history there,” Faile said.
There have been no 911 calls or other calls for help from the home, authorities said.
The shooting marks the first homicide of the year for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.