HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) — No charges will be filed in an “ill-fated” prank that left a woman dead in Henderson County, North Carolina, last year.
Rachel Olivia Buchanan, 18, was shot and killed on Oct. 20, 2021, in the yard of a home on Conservative Drive.
According to the Office of District Attorney Andrew Murray, Buchanan and her boyfriend were invited to a house down the street that belonged to another couple. Once at the house, Buchanan realized she had left her phone charger at her house. Her boyfriend and the other man offered to walk back to get the charger.
On the walk to the house, both men armed themselves with guns, the district attorney said. This was in response to safety concerns regarding a black panther that reportedly had been reportedly in the area.
The other man said in his interview that Buchanan’s boyfriend even told him that he had seen the panther on the other man’s roof just a couple of days before.
While the men were walking to get the charger, Buchanan and the other woman spontaneously devised an ill-fated plan to play a prank on the men by hiding outside of the home with a dozen expired eggs to throw at them.
Buchanan and the other woman positioned themselves down an embankment where the other two men were expected to pass on the way back. The other woman said when she heard the men returning she squatted down close to the ground to hide and Buchanan bent over from the waist to shrink her profile.
According to the district attorney’s office, the men were walking back to the house when they heard what they both thought was a growl and a stick breaking down the hill from where they were standing. Then, the men saw a dark figure and fired multiple rounds in that direction.
After firing the shots, they heard a woman screaming for help.
The district attorney’s office said both men dropped their weapons and ran to help until EMS arrived.
Blood samples that were taken after the incident came back negative for impaired substances in the men’s systems, according to the district attorney’s office.
According to the Medical Examiner’s report, Buchanan suffered three gunshot wounds, including one that entered the left side of her scalp and exited near hear left earlobe. It then entered her upper chest and hit her heart and other organs.
“I am convinced that the shooting and killing of Rachel Olivia Buchanan was a [tragic] and heart-wrenching accident,” District Attorney Andrew Murray said. “No criminal laws were violated by either participant in this shooting. Both Shields Jr. and Barber had the lawful right to possess a weapon and to discharge their weapons outside of the city limits. They both firmly believed that a growling shadow in the darkness, where they did not expect to encounter a person, was a threat to their safety … However, the tragic result of their actions was that Buchanan was shot and killed.”