Man fatally shoots best friend after mistaking him for intruder

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. — An apparent case of mistaken identity turned deadly Tuesday night, as a Virginia man fatally shot his best friend after believing he was an intruder, authorities said.

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Matthew Allen Sharpf, 37, of Dinwiddie County, was charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter, WRIC reported. He is charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Jonathan Hankins, 37, of North Dinwiddie, the television station reported.

According to Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office Maj. William Knott, Hankins arrived at Sharpf’s home unannounced at about 11 p.m. EDT, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Knott said Sharpf and his family were asleep when Hankins arrived and tried to knock on the side of the home, according to WRIC.

Hankins “came banging around to the door and the side of the house,” Knott told the Times-Dispatch. “I don’t know whether it was to shock him, or whether it was a joke or prank.”

Sharpf, awakened by the noise, went to the door and saw a silhouette of a person outside, the newspaper reported. Believing it was an intruder, Sharpf, armed with a handgun, fired a shot through the front door that struck Hankins, Knott said.

Hankins was killed instantly.

“I don’t think (Sharpf) intended to shoot,” Knott told the Times-Dispatch. “The gun discharged; it may have been an accident.”

The officer said the two men were “best of friends.

“They had been best friends for years,” Knott said. “One was best man at the other one’s wedding.

“It’s a bad situation,” Knott said. “Truly tragic.”

Hankins was released on an unsecured bond and was arraigned on the charge Thursday, the Times-Dispatch reported. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 26, the newspaper reported.

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