FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — An 8-year-old New Hampshire boy died Sunday after being shot in the neck the day before by a man who authorities said was firing randomly at cars driving by his home in Florence County, according to Coroner Keith von Lutcken.
The child’s father, who was driving the car, was also shot in the leg but is expected to survive, von Lutcken said. His name has not been released. The boy’s mother was also in the car but was not hurt, von Lutcken said.
The shooting happened while the family was on vacation in South Carolina.
Quarius Naqua Dunham died after being taken off life-support, according to von Lutcken. The boy had been in the hospital in critical condition since the shooting, which Sheriff TJ Joye said happened in the area of Old River Road.
According to von Lutcken, an autopsy is planned for Friday at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Authorities charged Charles Montgomery Allen, 40, of Florence, with murder, attempted murder, four counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
“No motive. Just probably methed up. He’s got a history,” Joye said. “He’s incarcerated now without incident. Just a senseless, senseless act.”
Laura Stroll told WBZ-TV in Boston that she struggled to tell her son that his friend — Dunham — won’t be returning to school.
“This was a complete random act,” Stroll said. “It’s just really heartbreaking and it’s terrible to have to tell your child news like this. It’s really hard.”
Another parent said she couldn’t imagine what the family is going through.
“It was just horrifying,” Emily Weidman said. “I was working all day. Just got the emails from the principle. I can’t imagine.”
Stoll said this is a really difficult time.
“Especially everything that’s happened last week,” she said. “It just seems like it’s too often.”
Deaglan McEachern, mayor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire — which is the family’s hometown — said the city is standing behind the family.
“You had asked how to put this into words,” McEachern said. “I don’t think that’s possible. Our hearts go out to the family and there have not been details released yet from South Carolina, so we are honor that at the moment, but we are so saddened to hear this senseless act.”
McEachern said he has two young children himself.
“We’re a family that went on vacation and to imagine that this is what happens — it’s unimaginable from any perspective,” McEachern said.
McEachern said his children are 1 and 5 years old.
“It’s senseless. As a dad, I can’t imagine that,” McEachern said. “As Mayor of Portsmouth, it’s frustrating from a standpoint of reading the reports that this guy had a history, who is in custody now. That is just frustrating from a person that does everything to keep our community safe in Portsmouth. It’s just frustrating to read something like that.”
He said the town will show the family how strong the community is when they return home.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “You never, I guess, understand how we end up in this position over and over again.”
In the family’s hometown in New Hampshire, Portsmouth School Department Superintendent Steve Zadravec gave WBZ-TV News a statement that went out to parents about the shooting.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the sad news that one of our third-grade students at LHS was killed this weekend. His family was on vacation and were victims of a random shooting in South Carolina. An event like this touches our community as a whole. Our hearts are with the family as we support each other through this unbelievable tragedy.
“For parents looking for support in speaking with their children, The Child Mind Institute has some resources about dealing with and talking about grief in a developmentally appropriate way that you may find helpful.
“There will be increased counseling support at LHS starting tomorrow and counselors across the district are prepared to support any student or staff member who may need assistance in this difficult time.”
McEachern said the city will be doing something for the family but doesn’t have an exact idea yet.
“We just want to make sure whatever the city may do is gonna be supported by the family to make sure that this is not in any way adding to their pain,” he said.
Count on News13 for updates.