Augusta County Party Turns Into a Crime Scene

August 2, 2010

Augusta County Police are investigating a shooting at a party that was supposed to be a benefit for an uninsured friend dying of pancreatic cancer. Just before midnight, the farm party in rural Augusta County turned into a crime scene.

According to Virginia State Police the party got out of control when 27-year-old Robert Hamilton got into a fight with some other party-goers and reportedly went to his vehicle to get a gun.

"Somehow or another gunshots were fired and approximately three people suffered from gunshot wounds," says Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Scott VanLear.

Mike Freeman was nearby and saw the chaos break out when people heard the gun shots.

"I mean people were running for their lives pretty much, and people were screaming and crying," Freeman says.

Freeman says he ran towards the commotion to find out what was happening.

"I seen two or three people laying on the ground. Somebody was telling me that somebody got shot in the chest, and I ran over to help the chest victim," Freeman says.

Freeman says he found the chest wound victim, Robert Hamilton, on the ground gasping for air. Hamilton was taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center where police later identified him man as the shooter.

Police were at the crime scene early Sunday morning collecting evidence.

Police charged Hamilton with two felony counts of malicious wounding, two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, and one count of brandishing a firearm.

Curtis Rankin and Daniel Armstrong, the two other men shot at the party, were treated at Augusta Health and released.

For those hosting and attending the party, it was a tragic end to what was supposed to be a benefit to honor a sick friend.

"It's sad that it just takes one person to ruin it all for everybody," Freeman says.

The family that hosts the annual event says after the shooting, it's unlikely that their party on the farm will ever be held again.

Hamilton has since been released from the hospital and is being held in the Middle River Regional Jail without bond.

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