A Prairie Ridge man has been charged with manslaughter after a stray bullet allegedly hit a neighbor in her head, killing her.
The incident began when Tobin Hugh Panton witnessed his car being stolen from his driveway close to 11 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reported.
According to multiple witnesses who called 911 between 11:10 and 11:25, Panton fired approximately 10 shots.
At 11:30, another call came in from the Panton’s mother, who reported the car being stolen and that her son fired his gun at the car before chasing after it in another vehicle.
Panton and his mother live on the 12300 block of Prairie Ridge Drive East.
At 12:14 a.m., another man called 911 to report that his mother, Linda Green, was bleeding from the head. He checked on her after she started making strange breathing noises and found her bleeding on the floor.
At first, he believed that Green fell and hit her head, but deputies determined that a stray bullet came through her window and hit her. Several more strike marks were found around Green’s and her neighbor’s house.
Green and her son lived on the 124000 block of Prairie Ridge Drive East, approximately two blocks away from and in the direction of where Panton fired his gun. Green’s brother also lived in the home.
“It was kind of a fluke. The odds are unreal,” said Public Information Officer Gary Sanders in a phone interview, adding that the bullet traveled about 200 yards. “It’s very unfortunate.”
Green was transported to a local hospital where she died around 12:23 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4.
The Sheriff’s Department reported that Panton was cooperating with detectives and was originally booked for second degree assault at the Pierce County Jail, but charges became more severe after Green died.
Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman James Lynch confirmed the first-degree manslaughter charge in a Nov. 7 interview.
The car that was stolen, a Jeep Cherokee, was found abandoned a mile away in a different neighborhood. Sanders said the back window was shattered, but there were no obvious signs that the person who stole the car was hit by gunfire.