Investigators found the body of Kyle Austin Royal, 16, of Augusta, in the back seat of the car with a gunshot wound to the head after they responded to a crash near the intersection of Lumpkin Road and Mike Padgett Highway around 1:50 a.m. Monday.
Deputies said that the Mercury Marquis had struck a utility pole at the intersection after the driver tried to make a left turn onto Lumpkin Road while traveling at a high speed.
Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner Mark Bowen said it appeared that the 16-year-old was dead before the accident.
Investigators learned the vehicle had previously been at Magic City, 3200 Mike Padgett Highway, where a number of shots had been fired after a party, Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Blaise Dresser said in a news release.
The driver of the car and the front-seat passenger were at the scene but were not injured. Investigators said the Marquis was moving when the shots were fired and that the car crashed almost instantly.
Magic City owner Patrick Walton denied that shots any were fired on his property.
“I disagree with that,” he said Monday.
“I’m sorry for the loss of life, but I can’t prevent that loss of life whether I’m open or closed.”
Walton said he was in the vacant parking lot picking up trash when he saw shots being fired on the highway between the Marquis and a white sedan.
The owner maintained that Magic City is a banquet hall that holds wedding receptions and other small parties and denied it is a dance hall.
In August, Walton applied for a dance hall license in Augusta. Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Elim said Magic City’s current status was unclear.