Special To The Herald
BATESVILLE – A midnight dispute in neighboring Panola County between an employer and his worker led to the shooting of the worker, a Panola County Sheriff’s department investigation alleges. The incident occurred just after midnight Friday morning.
An autopsy scheduled the same night will rule on the death of Christopher Keel Sr. of Water Valley.
Sheriff’s investigators believe Keel was shot and killed by Codie Allen Banton, 17, while Keel fought with Banton’s father, Harley Elmer Banton. Codie Banton is charged with murder.
The fight and shooting occurred at the elder Banton’s home, located at 2787 Highway 6 East, said Chief Deputy Otis Griffin.
According to Griffin, Harley Banton dialed 911 at 12:27 on April 25 and reported an “accidental shooting.”
“Our investigation shows that Mr. Keel and Mr. Banton were arguing, and Mr. Banton was armed with a shovel,” Griffin said. “The son then went into the home and retrieved a high-powered rifle to help his father.”
Keel was pronounced dead on the scene. Paramedics with MedStat responded to the shooting.
Harley Banton is charged with aggravated assault for the alleged fight with Keel, Griffin said.
Keel worked for Harley Banton, who operated a deck construction business, the chief deputy said.
“Right now they’re not saying what the argument was about,” he said.