Father charged with murder in son’s shooting
A 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by his father in eastern Morgan County on Saturday evening, June 18, while the father was allegedly showing his son how to clean and fire a handgun.
William Allan Butler, 73, of Fulton Road, Hedgesville, told Deputy Sheriff C. Cobern that he and his son, Andrew Arthur Butler, went outside to fire weapons. He said he told his son to fire at a woodpile.
Chief Deputy Tony Link said a 9-mm handgun and a 38-caliber revolver were involved in the incident.
Butler told police that he was standing five feet in front of his son, showing him where to fire the gun. He turned his back, heard a shot that he believed was directed at him, spun around and fired at his son, striking him in the right eye, according to the criminal complaint filed in Magistrate Court.
The boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
Butler’s 12-year-old daughter told police that she was inside on her computer when she heard a gunshot. She didn’t think anything of it because she knew her father and brother were behind the house with weapons.
“About ten seconds later she heard a shot, looked outside and saw her brother laying on the ground with blood coming from his head,” according to the criminal complaint.
Butler’s wife Roberta, the boy’s mother, was not home at the time of the shooting.
Link said there were no witnesses to the shooting.
“We are unsure who was holding which weapon because the weapons had been moved and put in the house,” Link said.
Butler told police he couldn’t remember what weapon he was using.
Asked if both weapons had been fired, Link said, “Yes.”
Fingerprint evidence was collected from the guns and was sent to Charleston to determine who handled which gun.
“The 13-year-old boy had never fired a weapon before. I think that is important,” Link said.
Police said Butler was cooperative. “We had no problems with him,” Cobern said.
According to the criminal complaint, Butler told police that his son was “always in trouble” and defied his mother.
Butler was charged with murder and arraigned before Magistrate Greg Miller at the Morgan County Courthouse. He was transported to Eastern Regional Jail. No bail was set.
An autopsy on Monday afternoon by the State Medical Examiner in Charleston revealed the victim was shot at intermediate range between five and eight feet, Link said.
No bullet was found by the medical examiner. Link said the bullet passed through the victim’s head but police did not find a bullet at the scene.
The call came into Morgan County 911 at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening and Cobern arrived at the Butler home at 7:03 p.m. Butler was sitting on his front porch when police arrived.
The Sheriff’s Department was assisted at the scene by the West Virginia State Police Crime unit and Town of Bath Police.
Fulton Road is located off Clone Run Road, east of Berkeley Springs.