An eyewitness to the Friday night shootout in which a Fauquier County man was killed by two state game wardens, one of whom was critically wounded, said yesterday the wardens opened fire first.
The account of Tina Carter, a close friend of the dead man, Randolph Dudley Wyne, 30, contradicted statements by the wardens. They have told county sheriff's investigators that Wyne shot first.
The incident was the first gunfight involving game wardens in recent memory in the rural county about 65 miles west of Washington.
The wardens said they had spotted Wyne illegally "spotlighting" deer -- using a searchlight to blind the animal and render it immobile and easy to shoot -- and said he opened fire with a shotgun after they confronted him and asked his identity.
Carter disputed that version in a statement she gave investigators Saturday and in a telephone interview yesterday.
Carter had arrived at Wyne's rented home off state Rte. 731 for a date late Friday night to celebrate her 22nd birthday the next day. She said Wyne came up the long driveway from his house about 1,000 feet from the road carrying the shotgun and a flashlight.
Carter said she was standing next to her car and between Wyne and the wardens when Wyne called out to her.
"Randy saw them sneaking up behind me," she said. "He told me to get down. Then they started shooting.
"They fired first," said Carter. "As far as I'm concerned, he was murdered."
Wyne was struck at least twice by shots fired from a warden's .38 caliber service revolver. Warden Dwight Campbell suffered shotgun wounds in the upper thigh and was listed in stable condition at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton. The other warden, Gary Dalton, was not injured.
Left unclear in Carter's account was why Wyne had carried the shotgun to what was supposedly a date. Members of Wyne's family said they had heard unconformed reports from Wyne's friends of hostility between him and Campbell and that Campbell believed Wyne was one of several area residents guilty of spotlighting.
"There was definitely bad blood between them," said Allan Bernstein, Wyne's brother-in-law.
The family said that Debbie Lunsford, a girlfriend of Wyne's, had dropped Wyne off at his home earlier in the evening. At that time he had spoken briefly to the wardens, who said they had staked out the area in search of illegal hunters. (The season for deer hunting with guns begins late next month).
"She said he asked them if they were after him and they said no," said Wyne's younger brother Thomas. Lunsford could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A Fauquier Hospital spolesman said Campbell remained in a special care unit yesterday and could not be interviewed Dalton could not be reached for comment.
Neither Fauquier Sheriff Luther Cox nor Sheriff's Lt. Warren L. Jenkins returned repeated telephone calls from a reporter yesterday.