He was saved from drowning, then he was shot in self-defense

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

While we have no official statistics on the number of defensive gun uses that take place in any given year, the best estimates are somewhere in the neighborhood of one million-or-so instances of a firearm being used to protect a life. The vast majority of those cases never involve the pulling of a trigger, with the presence or display of the firearm enough to prevent a crime from escalating any further.

Occasionally, however, gun owners are forced to actually discharge their firearm in order to save a life, and that appears to be the case in Oconee County, South Carolina, where authorities say a man will not be charged for shooting and killing a man he had just rescued from the waters of Lake Keowee.

Once deputies arrived on the scene, they learned a man and a woman on a pontoon boat saw a man and a woman, who had been on a jet ski, in distress in the water. Neither one was wearing a life jacket.

According to the sheriff’s office, the couple drove the pontoon over and got the man and woman out of the water and onto the pontoon boat.

The jet ski was still running and doing circles in the lake.

Deputies said the man who had been rescued, became agitated and began assaulting the couple on the pontoon. Investigators were told that the man may have wanted to get back to the jet ski.

The sheriff’s office said the woman, who was on the jet ski, attempted to deescalate the assault by pushing the man, who had also been on the jet ski, back into the water.

The couple helped the man get back on the boat a second time.

After a second encounter, deputies said the man on the pontoon shot the man fearing for his and his wife’s life while being assaulted.

Drowning victims can sometimes attack their rescuer in a panic, but it doesn’t sound like was the issue here. According to police, there may have been argument between the man and the woman on the jet ski before they ended up in the water, and the man, who police identified as 29-year old Nathan Drew Morgan, may also have been intoxicated, according to the county sheriff.

The 74-year-old man and his wife on a pontoon boat drove over to help fish the pair out of the lake, the sheriff’s office said. The couple on the boat told authorities Morgan “became agitated and began assaulting” them.

Investigators were told he may have wanted to get back on the Jet Ski. They also believe there may have been an argument between Morgan and the woman he was with before they fell into the water. Sheriff Mike Crenshaw told The Journal of Seneca that Morgan may have been intoxicated.

… Brandon Thomas, who lives nearby, told WSPA-TV the shooting was  “crazy” and “unexpected” given the area.

“Certainly, have never seen anything like that or heard anything that like that,” he said.

This is definitely one of the stranger stories of armed self-defense that I’ve run across, and should serve as a reminder to all of us that our need for self-defense can arise in the unlikeliest of places; even on a pontoon boat floating in a secluded lake on a warm early spring day. It’s a damn shame that Morgan tried to attack the man who saved his life, but I’m thankful that the 74-year old man was able to defend not only himself but his wife and the woman who was apparently the original target of Morgan’s ire as well.