EASLEY — The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and the 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office have stated no charges will be filed in the shooting death of 39-year-old Henry Hugh Thomas, citing self-defense.
According to PCSO Chief Deputy Creed Hashe, Thomas gained entrance to a residence on Walker Street in Easley when he opened an “unlocked but closed door and walked inside — unannounced and uninvited” just before 8 p.m. Sept 12.
“Upon entering, Thomas encountered the homeowner and four other adult guests inside the residence,” said Hashe. “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.”
Hashe said Thomas then fired twice in the direction of the guests, prompting two of them to charge at him while a third 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,” said Hashe. “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.”
Thomas dropped his weapon after he was wounded and was held on the floor until authorities arrived, officials said. He later died from his injuries during surgery at a local hospital.
Hashe said PCSO detectives interviewed numerous individuals and determined that Thomas had no known previous interactions with anyone 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,” said Hashe.
The weapon Thomas had in his possession had been reported stolen in Anderson County in 2015, he said. The .9mm that fired the fatal shots belonged to the homeowner.
“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,” said Hashe. “Under the SC Protection of Persons and Property Act, sometimes commonly referred to as the ‘Castle Doctrine,’ a person is immune from prosecution when certain elements or facts are present.”
Officials at the PCSO stated that 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 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,” said Hashe. “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.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.