May 5, 2016
Southern Torch (3854 articles)

Sylvania Teen Shot in Yardrolling Incident: The Victim Speaks Out

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.04.19 PMSouthern Torch Exclusive

By: Marla Jones

SYLVANIA, Ala.—It was just a normal Saturday when Ethan Bethune, 17, and a group of nine to 10 Sylvania teenagers gathered to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

They decided to have some fun and roll their principal’s yard. The friends gathered toilet paper, jumped into two vehicles, and made their way to the home of their principal. As they parked on the edge of County Road 682 to approach the home, according to their accounts, they were approached by a speeding car.

After jumping into a ditch to hide, the driver, Ronnie Lee Neeley, 64 of Sylvania yelled, “What are you doing?”

The group explained their plans to roll their principal’s yard that night. It was at this point that Bethune said things turned from bad to worse.

“He started cursing and put a gun in our face and said to leave,” Bethune said. “We started walking to the car when he fired off two shots in the air. Everyone started running and getting into their car. The driver was so scared that he couldn’t unlock the door and sped off.

“I ran and jumped into the back of the truck and that is when I was shot. We sped off and I was hurting real bad. The other guy in the truck told them I had been shot. We were too scared to stop until we got to one of the parents house.”

Shortly after arriving home, emergency medical services were contacted, and Bethune was transported to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“The doctors said that they did not think it was safe to remove the bullet. We got a second opinion and the doctor could not be certain that the bullet would not move to other places in my leg.” Bethune said. “I had to go to work the next day because I was afraid I might lose my job.”

On Wednesday, April 27, Neeley, the alleged shooter, turned himself into the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office where he was charged with two counts of menacing, discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle, and 2nd degree assault.

Bethune said that many of his friends and family felt that the charges Neeley was brought up on were not severe enough. Bethune said he is worried about the damage to the tailgate of his friends truck and the “hefty” medical bills that his dad would have to pay.

DeKalb County Sheriff Jimmy Harris said., “This is a traumatic incident that could have been tragic had the bullet taken a different path. We are very thankful that the child did not suffer any more injury than he did.”

Southern Torch

Southern Torch


  1. Tisha Morgan
    Tisha Morgan May 05, 12:27
    This shows a willful desire to harm these young people even after knowing they weren't posing any danger. Thank God that this didn't have a tragic ending.
  2. Melanie
    Melanie May 05, 12:58
    The shooter should be held responsible for the damage to the truck and that child's medical bills, not to mention the charges should be felonies. Damn dumbass!
  3. Srj
    Srj May 05, 13:09
    Good story i pray that justice is served
  4. Gary s Anderson
    Gary s Anderson May 05, 14:03
    I moved here 19years ago ,a good friend of mine was killed over a harmless prank Rollin a yard,this man should be brought up on more serious charges and his parents should go to the DA office and demand so!
  5. William J Braun
    William J Braun May 07, 05:07
    Has anybody heard what the shooter said happened?

Write comment

Your data will be safe! Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person. Required fields marked as *