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Boy Shoots Family with Rifle Birthday Present

A 14-year-old South Carolina boy is accused of using the rifle his father bought him as a birthday present to shoot his family, leaving the father and a great-aunt dead, and critically wounding his grandmother.

Police say the teen, whose name was not released because his is a juvenile, called police just before midnight Monday and reported that he had shot his family.

The boy told the dispatcher his father was dead, and said "in a calm, controlled, methodical voice that he would be waiting or come outside when police arrived, and he had laid the gun on the dining room table," said Tony Fisher, director of the Spartanburg, South Carolina Public Safety Department.

As officers arrived, the teen came out with his hands up and was arrested.

When police entered the house they found a bloodbath. Joe Robert Lankford, 44, was shot to death in his bed. They found Virginia Gaston, 83, was also in her bed, dead from a gunshot wound.

The grandmother, 80-year-old Rachel Gaston Lankford, was rushed to a hospital where she is in critical condition.

Fisher said the teen told police he used the .22-caliber rifle that "was a birthday gift purchased by his father for him on his most recent birthday in September."

Fisher said while the boy was cooperating, "he was not able ... to articulate a reason for his behavior."

By all accounts, there was no previous behavior on the boy's part that would suggest such an act.

Prosecutors will decide whether he should be tried as an adult or a juvenile. Either way, he'll face murder and attempted murder charges.


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