'I was protecting myself': Man charged with killing 4-wheeler rider appears in court

CONNELLY SPRINGS, N.C. — The suspect accused of shooting and killing a man riding a four-wheeler in Burke County appeared in court Wednesday.

The shooting happened just before 2 a.m. Monday on Old North Carolina 18 in Connelly Springs, which is 10 miles south of Morganton.

Officials said deputies got a 911 call saying a person riding a four-wheeler ran over two people on another person's property.

Deputies said a third person fired shots at the four-wheeler, hitting the rider.

“How many rounds total did you fire?" the dispatcher asked.

“I think eight," the 911 caller said.

“You fired eight rounds total?" the dispatcher asked.

"Yes," the caller answered.

The rider, identified as Lawrence Ervin McGee, died shortly after Burke County deputies and medical crews got to the property.

Channel 9 spoke with Andrew Smith, who has been charged with murder in the case. He said he was trying to keep others from being hurt when he fired several shots.

"I used my concealed carry the way I was trained to use it. I was protecting myself, my friends, my family," Smith said.

Smith spoke with the 911 dispatcher in the moments following the deadly encounter.

“He was just so aggressive. He drove straight at us. I didn’t know what to do. He just kept doing it. He wouldn’t talk with us," Smith said.

James York showed Channel 9 where he was hit in the leg by the four-wheeler. He believes Smith acted in self-defense.

“I feel bad for his family and all that, but if he hadn’t shot him I wouldn’t be standing here today,” York said.

Sheriff Steve Whisenant said McGee didn’t live on the property where the shooting happened.

“When we went to the scene, things did not add up completely to the original information we were given,” Whisenant said. “As evidence was collected, it doesn’t appear it was completely self-defense.”


McGee’s brother believes Smith should be charged, saying eight shots is not self-defense.

“I think it’s straight up murder. Self-defense is one shot, two shots. Anything other than that is excessive,” Billy McGee said.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.