HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – No charges will be filed in an “ill-fated” prank that left a woman dead in Henderson County last year.
Rachel Olivia Buchanan, 18, was shot and killed on October 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 left her phone charger at her house. Her boyfriend and the other man offered to walk back to get the charger.
While 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 had been reportedly residing 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 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 themselves outside of the home armed with a dozen expired eggs to throw at them.
Buchanan and the other woman positioned themselves down an embankment where the other two 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 discharging, they heard one woman screaming for help.
The district attorney’s office said both men dropped their weapons and ran to assist until EMS arrived on the scene.
Blood samples that were taken after the incident came back negative for impaired substances within the men’s systems, according to the district attorney’s office.
According to the Medical Examiner’s Report, Buchanan suffered three gunshot wounds. One of them caused a deep grazing wound on her forehead. The second gunshot wound impacted her left forearm, and the third entered the left side of her scalp, exiting near the left earlobe. It then entered the upper chest and hit vital organs including the heart.
Based on the evidence, District Attorney Andrew Murray said:
I am convinced that the shooting and killing of Rachel Olivia Buchanan was a traffic and heart-wrenching accident. 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 by a 9mm projectile discharged by Barber’s firearm.