Former CA Deputy Charged With Manslaughter In Death Of Neighbor In McClain County

Wednesday, July 31st 2019, 10:18 pm
By: Bonnie Campo

James Scott Blackwood, 61, has been charged with manslaughter following the death of his neighbor. Investigators said on June 2, Blackwood accidentally shot and killed Leroy Atkinson. 

OSBI agents said Blackwood was firing his rifle at a paper target that had no back stop.

Atkinson’s wife called 911 and reported the gunfire. She said her grandson and a friend were fishing at a pond on the Atkinson property, and she was concerned.

Caller: “Husband is in the field working, and my grandson is down there fishing, and shots are coming from the Blackwood house.”

Court documents state Atkinson hopped on his four-wheeler to try and confront Blackwood.

Atkinson’s body was found near the fence line once deputies got on scene. He had been found with a gunshot wound to the head.

According to OSBI, Blackwood worked as a deputy sheriff in Napa, California for three years, and in 1992, he moved to Byars. Agents said the day the victim was killed, Blackwood fired several rounds through a "chronograph."

Blackwood said he didn't think the rounds would travel onto his neighbor’s property, but deputies proved otherwise.

Investigators believe Blackwood has extensive training with firearms.

“It shows show some reckless decision making to not have a backstop. He was shooting at a target that was on the south side of his shop, and that was facing his neighbor’s property,” said Brook Arbeitman of the OSBI.

Deputies confirm Blackwood has since bonded out of jail.