A Lee County man was shot earlier this week. According to police, Caleb Lawson, 19, of Pennington Gap, was allegedly shot by 56-year-old Eugene Underwood, also of Pennington Gap.
According to the press release, Underwood lured Lawson and his girlfriend, Santessa Webb, to a wooded area under the disguise of helping him dig a hole in the ground, which he told the couple was a deer trap. As it turned out, it was allegedly a grave for Lawson.
The release said Webb stated when Lawson asked if the hole was deep enough, Underwood told him to dig deeper in one corner. When Lawson got back into the hole, Underwood pulled a gun from his pocket and fired twice at Lawson, according to the release.
The release states one shot passed through his left arm and the other lodged in his right shoulder. When Lawson was shot he was able to roll out of the hole and over a bank into the brush and flee, according to the release.
Underwood then allegedly told Webb he shot Lawson for “ratting him out to people.” She then found an opportunity to run, according to the release. The release states that both made their way back to telephones to call for help.
Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons reported that his office received a call from a resident of the Occonita community, who turned out to be Lawson. According to the release, Lawson told Parsons he had been shot.
According to the release, a few minutes later Webb called and stated she had witnessed the shooting. She then identified Underwood and stated he left the scene in a small silver pick up, police said.
Parsons said Captain Taylor Scott of the sheriff’s office was responding to the call when he passed the vehicle just a short distance from Lee County High School. Parsons said Scott turned on the vehicle, but did not engage his blue lights, hoping the vehicle would travel farther from the school before attempting to stop it.
The release stated that instead the vehicle pulled into the upper school paring lot about 300 yards from the school. Scott then instinctively traveled passed the truck and blocked it from going any closer to the building, the release said.
Scott then left his vehicle, drew his weapon and demanded that Underwood show his hands, according to the release. The release stated Underwood lifted a .32 caliber handgun to his own head and fired, dying instantly at the scene.
Parsons said Underwood was a sex offender, having been convicted of rape and was only released from prison in 2005 after pulling a 20-year sentence. After the initial shooting he called a family member and told them what had happened and that he was not going back to prison, police said.
Parsons said because his deputy was present when Underwood shot himself, he asked the Virginia State Police to handle the case.
Lawson was treated at Lee Regional Medical Center and released.