The home on that plot of Rutherford family land in tiny Jay, Oklahoma, was supposed to be vacant.
So when neighbors saw multiple vehicles driving up to it early Saturday morning, they called the homeowner’s parents, who lived nearby, according to an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation news release.
When Tony Rutherford, 47, arrived in the middle of the night, he saw his older son’s pickup truck cut across a field. It was supposed to be parked.
According to the release, Rutherford “gave chase and fired his rifle at the driver several times.”
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At least one of those rounds hit the driver, who was pronounced dead at the scene. That driver, found slumped over in the driver’s seat of the pickup, was later identified as Rutherford’s 13-year-old son.
“What is unique about this case is that we have a father who thought he was protecting an older son’s property, and in fact, he shot and killed his younger son, not knowing it was his younger son,” Jennifer Brown, OSBI spokeswoman, told KOAM.
Delaware County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene just before 1:45 a.m. Saturday. Rutherford was booked into the Delaware County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder.
As of Tuesday morning, though, Rutherford was no longer listed on the Delaware County Jail roster.
“Tony and his family are very sorry for the loss of their child, and time will reveal the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident which does not constitute a crime,” Winston Connor II, Rutherford’s attorney, told the Tulsa World.
Officials have not released the name of the victim.
Delaware County District Attorney Kenny Wright said an investigation into the shooting was still ongoing.
A similar incident happened on Christmas Eve 2017, in Cullen, Ala., when 22-year-old Logan Trammell took off in one of his father’s trucks late at night without his father knowing that he was borrowing it. According to AL.com, Donald Wayne Trammell, 42, was indicted on manslaughter charges two months after shooting his son.