Family violence leaves three dead
by Sherry Soelman
Nov 23, 2011 | 0 0 comments | 1775 1775 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When tragedy hits a family in Smith County, the news travels fast and the pain hurts everyone. As family members sat in a circle in the grass in front of a house off Highway 35, they grieved for the loss of not one family member, but three. A father’s unforeseen act of violence left them all with broken hearts and unanswered questions.

Around one o’clock on November 9, 2011, an ambulance and first responders arrived at the home of Oree, Ethel and Anthony Thornton to find all three suffering from gunshot wounds. Oree and Ethel were pronounced dead immediately, while Anthony clung to the last moments of his life. AMR paramedics found Anthony’s faint pulse when they arrived, but their efforts to save him were unsuccessful.

Oree Thornton, 84, called his daughter to tell her he had done something bad and was about to end his own life, according to Billy Allen, Smith County’s Coroner. Before the daughter could cross the road to her parent’s house, her father took his own life, sitting on the front porch of his home. “He had his head down,” Allen said.

Inside on the dining room floor was his wife, Ethel, 78, with a gunshot wound to the head from the same .22 rifle he used on himself. His son, Anthony, 50, was lying on the living room floor with a similar wound.

From the evidence at the scene, Allen said, Oree had shot at his son twice, hitting him the second time. Family members were questioned, but had no idea why it happened. “We may not ever know why it happened,” Allen said.

Allen said, it was evident all three victims died from gunshot wounds to the head, but the bodies were sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Jackson for an autopsy.

Private funeral services were held Monday, November 14, 2011.
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