Shooting case still not cleared

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Oxford Police Department is wait- ing on the return of forensic evidence to confirm their ruling that the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old was accidental.

On Jan. 5, officers responded to a home on Old Taylor Road after a report of a shooting. There they discovered Hunter Escue, 18, unresponsive with obvious injuries from a gunshot wound. He was immediately taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi where he was pronounced dead, according to Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy.

Officers interviewed Austin McLarty, 20, of Oxford, who said he was the one who called 911. Investigators said the men were handling firearms, when a shot was reportedly fired from Austin’s pistol, striking and killing Hunter.

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“From everything we’ve seen so far, it appears to have been completely accidental,” East said. “However, we are still waiting on forensic evidence reports.”

Escue and McLarty were roommates and first cousins who grew up together.

“The families also believe this to be an accidental shooting,” East said.

East said if the evidence comes back and appears to be in line with OPD’s investigator’s theory, then OPD will probably not press charges against McLarty.

However, the evidence will still all be sent to a grand jury, which will decide if a crime took place.

“We just present everything to the grand jury and they decide whether it was manslaughter or some type of negligence that occurred when handling the gun and they could hold (McLarty) responsible,” East said. “For us, it appears to be a completely accidental death,” he said. “But we will review all the evidence as it comes back to us.”

East said some of the evidence reports could take several weeks to come back to OPD.