PICKENS COUNTY—Police are investigating after an apparent murder-suicide near Crosswell Elementary that claimed the lives of three residents late Thursday night.
Officials say William D. Thomas, 61, who was found dead last night, is the suspect in the shooting deaths that claimed the lives of his wife and stepson at a residence near the school.
“At around 10:30 p.m. (Thursday night) we received a 911 call from a male stating he had been shot and requested officers respond to 2423 Saluda Dam Road,” said Assistant Pickens County Sheriff Tim Morgan.
A release from the Sheriff’s office stated that the officers arrived within minutes of the call.
“Responding officers arrived within six minutes and made entry into the dwelling to search for a victim and suspect,” according to the release. “Upon entry they found an adult female, Sandy Lee Smith, 42 (Thomas’ wife), with a gunshot wound to the upper torso. Deputies checked for signs of life and continued clearing the residence for other victims or the suspect.”
Officials said they found the stepson, who made the call to authorities, shortly after.
“The 15 year old male who had called 911, Daniel Gabriel Smith (Thomas’ step-son), was located in a bedroom with a gunshot wound under the chin area,” the release stated.
“While continuing to search the house for the shooter, officers heard a gunshot from outside the residence,” continued the statement. “Upon responding to an area of several outbuildings located about 75 yards from the home, officers found William David Thomas, 61, with a gunshot wound to the head.”
Morgan says the shooting was apparently the result of a domestic altercation.
“It appears to be a domestic situation where the male shot the other two and had taken his own life,” said Morgan. “It was right across from the entrance to (Crosswell Elementary School).”
Officers said they arrived on the scene at nearly the same time as the 15-year old’s girlfriend and father. Daniel Smith had been texting his girlfriend about an altercation between his mom and stepfather, and told her that he would likely get into a fight with the stepfather.
Smith was a student at Easley High School.
“The loss of life is always tough, but it is extremely difficult when it involves a young person,” said Easley Principal Tim Mullis of the student, who was also a member of the Junior Varsity football team. “Daniel will be missed in the classroom and on the playing field.”
Smith’s coach says the team and the school are hurting after the loss.
“Everything that he did he did with complete excitement and energy, always trying to do his best,” said Easley JV Football Coach Andrew Appenheimer. “Daniel will be missed, and I think the best way we can honor him is by holding ourseleves to the same high standard he set for himself.”
Autopsies were conducted Friday morning.
The investigation is continuing.