SHELBY COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) - Officials said Friday night that the owner of the rural Shelby County property where a teenager from Michigan was fatally shot earlier in the day told them the shooting was an accident.
Officers were sent to the 3100 block of South County Road 550 West, about three miles south of Ind. 44, just after noon Friday. The Department of Natural Resources said Brandon J. Spangler, 17, Flushing, Mich., was found fatally shot. He was visiting his father, Mark Spangler, a Greenwood resident, while on winter break from school.
Shelby County Deputy Coroner Robby Stonebreaker pronounced the boy dead at the scene.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources Officer Scott Johnson said Jason Bagley, 41, the property owner, was interviewed by investigators and told police he saw motion near the tree line several hundred yards from his home. He told investigators he had been having trouble with packs of coyotes on his property, and he fired gunshots to scare away what he though were animals.
He told investigators he then heard screaming and ran toward the sound, where he found Spangler shot.
Johnson called Bagley a suspect in the shooting but said he was released from custody late Friday and was not arrested.
Indiana DNR Lt. William Browne told 24-Hour News 8 that the father and four children were given permission to play paintball on the land, but had not started when the shooting occurred.
"They weren't in the activity of playing paintball. All the paintball equipment is still in the vehicle. That is what we believe they were getting ready to participate in," Browne said at the scene.
Johnson confirmed that Bagley said he had granted permission, but that he told investigators he didn't realize the group planned to use the land on Friday.
A man who emerged from Bagley's home Friday afternoon would not speak with 24-Hour News 8.
Neighbors said the incident had shaken the quiet, rural area.
"We never have any kind of issues this way," said Timmy Comstock, who lives nearby. "This is a small, close-knit community, and everybody cares about everybody and watches everybody's stuff."
Other neighbors said they see hunters in the area frequently.
"It's not uncommon for you to see someone back in the woods with guns and things," said Don Suiter.
"I was hunting on the other side of the river this morning," agreed Comstock. "We all hunt out here."
Mark Spangler and the three other children were taken to Major Hospital in Shelbyville for observation and emotional counseling, but were not hurt, Browne said.
An autopsy performed at the Marion County Coroner's Office confirmed that Spangler died from a single gunshot wound to the upper body.
Johnson said the investigation would be ongoing through the weekend. DNR investigators plan to turn over their findings to the prosecutor's office, who will determine whether any charges will be filed.
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