Three people have been charged by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office in a May 23 incident in which a 13-year-old boy was shot after he and his 14-year-old cousin entered someone else’s house.
Shortly before 8 p.m., deputies responded to a report of a burglary in progress and a person shot at a house on Go Cart Road in Guyton. Investigators determined that the two teenagers entered the abandoned home without permission.
The property owner, Irvin Helmey, 73, lives across the street. According to the ECSO, Helmey went to the house armed with a shotgun and “demanded them to surrender.”
The 13-year-old came from out of the house and fled across the street, and he was struck by a shot from Helmey. The teenager was hit with birdshot on his face, arms and hands, according to investigators.
Helmey and the teenagers gave conflicting stories about what happened. After further investigation, the ECSO charged the teenagers with criminal trespass and arrested Helmey for aggravated assault.
“It’s an unfortunate situation for everybody,” said ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor. “Poor decisions were made by everybody and the appropriate charges were filed. The kids had no business being on the property, and the man made a bad decision by firing.”
The 13-year-old’s injuries were not life-threatening, and he was treated and released from Memorial Health University Medical Center. His 14-year-old cousin, who remained inside the house, was not injured.
Georgia law allows homeowners to defend themselves and use force against intruders. The law has stipulations, such as how threatening the intruder is and whether he is inside or outside the residence.
“You have the right to defend yourself if someone comes on your property and you feel threatened,” Ehsanipoor said. “What got (Helmey) in trouble is, when the shot was fired, the 13-year-old was down the street and not on his property and the man did not feel (the teenager) was an immediate threat.”
The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office conferred with the district attorney’s office, and the case will be presented to a grand jury.