DA: No charges will be filed after woman mistaken for panther shot, killed

Published 6:03 am Sunday, May 8, 2022

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A North Carolina district attorney says the shooting death of a woman who was mistaken for a panther was a “tragic and heart-wrenching accident” for which no charges will be filed.

District Attorney Andrew Murray wrote this week that Rachel Buchanan, 19, her boyfriend and another couple were at a home outside Hendersonville on Oct. 20 when the two men left on foot to retrieve a phone charger, news outlets reported. Both men were armed because of word that a black panther was prowling in the woods and had been sighted, Murray said.

Buchanan and the other woman decided to play a prank on the men and throw rotten eggs at them as they returned. The women began laughing and the men mistook the noise for a panther growling, Murray said. The two men opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun and a 9 mm pistol. Buchanan was hit in the head and the chest, according to the district attorney.

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According to the statement, the guns the men used were legally owned. Murray said no laws were violated and no charges will be filed, adding that the case is closed.