The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has concluded the investigation into the deadly shooting of Henry Hugh Thomas (39yoa) on the evening of September 12, 2017, at 115 Walker St. in Easley.
Detectives have interviewed all known parties that were present on the night of the incident and reviewed the information learned from Sheriff’s detectives that were in attendance during the autopsy of the deceased.
The investigation revealed that Mr. Thomas entered the residence just before 8:00pm after he opened an unlocked but closed door and walked inside – unannounced and uninvited.
Upon entering, Thomas encountered the homeowner and four other adult guests inside the residence. The occupants immediately determined that Thomas was a stranger to everyone inside the residence and when questioned about his identity Thomas produced a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun and proceeded to point it in the direction of the occupants.
Mr. Thomas discharged two rounds from the weapon in the direction of the guests at which time two of the men that were inside the home physically engaged Thomas. A struggle ensued and one of the occupants retrieved a .9mm handgun from a bedroom inside the home.
As the two men continued to struggle with Mr. Thomas, one of the guests identified as James Christopher Murphy fired two rounds from the .9mm handgun that struck Thomas causing injuries to his upper and lower torso.
Witnesses stated that when those rounds were fired, Thomas was still holding the weapon that he had brought to the scene and was still actively fighting the two men that were attempting to disarm him.
Mr. Thomas dropped his weapon after he was wounded and was held on the floor until authorities arrived. He later died from his injuries during surgery at a local hospital.
Detectives interviewed numerous individuals pursuant to this investigation and determined that Henry Thomas had no known previous interactions with any of the occupants that were inside the home on the night of the shooting.
There is no known information that Thomas had ever previously been to the residence and he was residing in Greenville County at the time of his death.
The weapon possessed and brought to the scene by Mr. Thomas was previously reported stolen in Anderson County in 2015.
A records check of the handgun obtained from inside the residence that fired the fatal shots indicated that the handgun is not reported as stolen and the homeowner has stated that it belongs to him.
The Sheriff’s Office has consulted with the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office regarding this investigation and all known information along with the evidence collected from the scene has been presented for a legal review and opinion.
Under the SC Protection of Persons and Property Act (SC Code Ann. 16-11-410 et. Seq.), sometimes commonly referred to as the “Castle Doctrine”, a person is immune from prosecution when certain elements or facts are present.
Based on the evidence collected at the scene, observations during the autopsy and the statements provided by witnesses, the use of force by a permitted guest against Mr. Thomas was justified absent any other unknown information.
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office concurs with the opinion of the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office in that the supporting evidence indicates that Mr. Thomas unlawfully entered an occupied dwelling while armed with a handgun and subsequently fired two shots that placed the occupants in fear of their life and safety.
The use of force by one of the permitted guests in self-defense and in the defense of others appears to meet the provisions of SC law that grants immunity from prosecution.
No criminal charges are expected to be filed in this incident based on the known facts and supporting evidence collected during the investigation.