Fight between Avery County neighbors over deer ends in deadly shooting

AVERY COUNTY, N.C. — A fight Saturday night over a deer led to a deadly shooting in Avery County, the sheriff’s office said.

Deputies said it started when neighbors, one of whom is a detention officer, got into a fight on Teaster Valley Lane in the Banner Elk area.

Investigators said that officer, Brendan Smith, is accused of shooting and killing his neighbor, Mike Houser.

Deputies said the field next to where Houser was living is where he died this weekend. His girlfriend said they planned to get married there.

“He was a wonderful man that loved me, loved our dogs, loved our grandkids,” she said. “We never actually got married and we were supposed to get married by the river.”

No one is charged at this point, but the State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting because the officer works for the sheriff’s office.

Witnesses said Smith, who lives directly across the Elk River, was bow hunting Saturday evening. They said one of his arrows struck a deer that then crossed the river and collapsed in the field in front of Houser’s home.

Witnesses said that’s where the two men got into some sort of argument, which Houser’s girlfriend says was heated.

Heidi Teaster and her father live nearby and are stunned this happened.

“A deer -- over a deer. He could have drove away,” she said. “He could have just drove away.”

Deputies said Smith, who was off duty at the time, remained at the scene. He’s now on administrative leave while the SBI investigates.

“It’s pitiful that you have to take someone’s life over a deer that shouldn’t have ever been done,” neighbor Terry Teaster said.

We asked the sheriff’s office if Houser possibly had a weapon. They couldn’t comment about the investigation, but did say only one weapon was found at the scene.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: Man dies after falling off Grandfather Mountain in Avery County, deputies say)