By Nathan Baker
Carter County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Mike Little said police are unlikely to charge R.L. Hartley with the shooting death of his son-in-law outside Elk Mills General Store Wednesday night, pointing to a recently released report that indicates the man may have acted in self-defense.
“We’re still in the investigative phase of it,” Little said Thursday. “Last night we spent a great deal of time looking at the physical evidence, we interviewed witnesses until about 4 a.m., and we found that their statements were consistent with the report.“
The report, written by CCSD Sgt. Michael A. Bean, states that Hartley told police his son-in-law, 41-year-old Kenneth Jeffery Dugger, reached into his truck and was punching him in the face when Hartley fired the fatal shot.
According to Bean’s report, officers were initially dispatched to the Elk Mills General Store on U.S. Highway 321 to a call of a man threatening to run into traffic in an attempt to harm himself.
While making the 25-mile drive to the store near the North Carolina border, officers received a report that a man had been shot in the chest in the business’ parking lot.
Bean wrote that Deputy Shane Watson was the first officer to arrive at the scene, and found a man lying in the bed of a pickup truck near the store’s fuel pumps with an apparent gunshot wound to his chest.
The wounded man was eventually identified as Dugger, who later died from his injuries.