The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Richland County, S.C. investigators tried Sunday to sort through the
evidence of a weekend shooting that left a Beaufort County sheriffs
deputy dead and another man in jail, claiming self-defense.
Robert Odam, 22, of Bluffton, died shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday in
the 1300 block of Vanboklen Road in Eastover, said Richland County
coroner Gary Watts.
An autopsy showed Sunday that Odam was shot four times, including
twice in the back and once in the left arm, Watts said. Another
bullet grazed Odams neck. The bullet that struck Odams left arm
ultimately hit his heart and killed him.
Saturday night, authorities charged Thomas G. Rye, 58, of 7811
Skylark Drive in Columbia, with Odams death, Richland County Sheriffs
spokesman Joseph Pellicci said.
Rye, who owns land in Eastover, had called 911 Saturday to report
that one of his cats there had been shot and someone had tried to
break into his shed, Pellicci said. Rye then called again to say he
had confronted a man on his property and shot and killed him,
So far, the investigation has found that Odam was visiting relatives
in Eastover who live next to Ryes property, Pellicci said. Odam and
his brother-in-law had been on Ryes property to take target practice,
Rye told authorities he shot Odam in self-defense.
But Pellicci said it did not appear that Odam had been charging
toward Rye or that Odam had fired his gun.
We havent found anything during this investigation to support (Ryes)
theory of self-defense, Pellicci said. At this point, we feel that
Mr. Rye murdered Mr. Odam without any provocation.
Sunday, Rye was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.
The shooting remains under investigation.
Weve got different stories from different people, Pellicci said. Were
just trying to get as much information as possible and filter out any
Odam, who was married, joined the Beaufort County Sheriffs Office a
year ago after two years in the Air Force, said Beaufort County
Sheriff P.J. Tanner. Odam had moved with his family to South Carolina
from Michigan and graduated from Hilton Head High School in 2000.
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He was a good officer, Tanner said of Odam. He was a good man.