Timothy Mark Easterling Jr.

Timothy Mark Easterling Jr. Provided

A Summerville-area teenager faces multiple criminal charges in connection with a fatal shooting that occurred at his residence on Tuesday. 

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office has charged 17-year-old Timothy Mark Easterling Jr. with one count each of murder, obstructing justice, unlawful possession of a firearm and possessing a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, according to court records.

The Coroner's Office on Wednesday identified the victim as 22-year-old Joseph Melton. He was shot in the head, according to the Coroner George Oliver.

"The victim was shot once at close range," Oliver said. "An autopsy was completed today and the death has been ruled a homicide." 

Deputies were called around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday to a report of shooting at 115 Brown Court outside Summerville, the Sheriff's Office stated. The incident was initially described as a suicide.

At the scene, deputies were met by Easterling, who had called 911 and said that his friend was inside of his room suffering a gunshot wound, the Sheriff's Office stated.

Melton was found on the floor with an apparent gunshot wound to the head, the Sheriff's Office stated. 

The suspect's father was administering CPR to the victim, according to an incident report. 

Emergency medical services transported the victim to a hospital where he later died, the Sheriff's Office stated. 

Easterling was denied bond during a brief court appearance Wednesday night.

Although he initially claimed Melton shot himself in the head while playing with a gun, Easterling later admitted that he pointed a cocked and loaded revolver at the victim's head and had his finger on the trigger as he did so, according to an arrest affidavit. 

Easterling also admitted to breaking down the revolver and wiping it off "to destroy evidence," the affidavit stated. 

The shooting was the fifth homicide in Berkeley County Sheriff's Office jurisdiction this year and the 19th in the tri-county, according to a Post and Courier database. 

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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