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S.C. Man Held After Deputy's Shooting; Officer Was "Murdered Without Any Provocation"

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, Pellicci said.

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, Pellicci said.

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 bad information.

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.

He was a good officer, Tanner said of Odam. He was a good man.

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