ST. JOE — Searcy County authorities have filed formal charges against a 64-year-old man suspected of firing a gun that saw a 3-year-old boy shot in the head last week.
Rowland Kent Wyatt, 64, was served with the arrest warrant last Friday charging him with four counts of felony aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor third-degree battery in the case.
According to an arrest affidavit filed by Arkansas State Police, Lonnie Eddings called the Searcy County Sheriff’s Office about 6 p.m. Wednesday and said the 3-year-old was walking with adults on South Wollum Road when Wyatt, who he referred to as Tom Wyatt, “stepped out on the front porch with a pistol and shot the little boy in the head.”
Deputies and first responders went to the scene and Wyatt was taken into custody. A breath alcohol test administered showed a result of 0.14%, the affidavit said. The legal limit for driving a car under Arkansas law is 0.08%.
The boy was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where a doctor told police a projectile hit the boy’s head and exited as well, but it didn’t penetrate his skull. The affidavit said he was expected to recover from the wound.
Elmer Sullivan, one of the adults walking on the road, was interviewed and he told police he heard a gunshot while on the road and looked to see Wyatt standing on the porch of the house with a shotgun.
“He asked Wyatt what he was shooting at and Wyatt said a squirrel,” the affidavit said.
Investigators were unable to interview Wyatt that night due to intoxication, but they did interview him the following morning.
Wyatt told investigators he had been having a problem with dogs chasing his animals around his house, so he walked outside with a 12-gauge shotgun because he thought the dogs were outside, the affidavit said.
Wyatt said he saw people standing near his driveway. He said he fired one shot toward the road at an angle toward the ground to scare the dogs off, the affidavit said.
“He did not know anyone had been shot because the people on the road started walking down the road after the shot,” the affidavit said.
A search warrant was conducted at Wyatt’s home last Wednesday, records show. Searcy County Chief Deputy Dewayne Pierce requested the search and Searcy County Circuit Judge H.G. Foster about 7:40 p.m.
No weapon was found outside the residence, so a nighttime exception was granted for the search warrant to be executed immediately Wednesday. Documents show the search ended about 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Items seized during the search included:
• A Remington 22-250 firearm with a magazine containing four shells.
• A Remington 870 Express Mag 12-gauge shotgun with three shells inside and five in the butt stock.
• A Heritage .22 revolver.
• Five .22 caliber rounds.
• A .22 caliber ammo box.
• A Smith and Wesson .22 caliber pistol with 12 rounds of ammo.
• A spent 12-gauge shotgun shell.
Officials say Wyatt was still being held Monday afternoon in the Searcy County Jail with bond set at $45,000 cash only.