By Nathan Baker
A report released Thursday morning by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department sheds more light on the events leading up to a fatal shooting at an Elk Mills convenience store Wednesday night.
According to the report, written by CCSD Sgt. Michael A. Bean, officers were dispatched to the Elk Mills General Store at 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.
According to Bean’s report, Deputy Shane Watson was the first officer on 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 41-year-old Kenneth Jeffery Dugger, who later died from his injuries.
Upon interviewing numerous people at the scene, Bean said officers determined that the shooting occurred during an altercation between Dugger and his father-in-law, R. L. Hartley.
Bean reported that Dugger was the man earlier threatening to run into the roadway, and said he was entangled in a brief struggle with Hartley’s wife when she attempted to convince him to leave the roadside.
According to the report, another relative drove from the store to Hartley’s house on Poga Road to notify him of the struggle involving his son-in-law and wife.
Bean said Hartley, interviewed by officers at the scene, told police that he quickly dressed and left for the store, but first grabbed his .380-caliber handgun.
When he arrived at the general store, Hartley told officers that Dugger reached into his truck and began punching him in the face.
At that time, Hartley stated that he shot Dugger once in the chest.
Bean said officers found a single shell casing lying in the parking lot near Hartley’s truck.
CCSD Capt. Mike Little said no charges have been filed in the incident and the investigation is continuing.