ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Saturday was supposed to be Wayne Whiteside's surprise 70th birthday party, but York County deputies said the former career Marine was shot during a home invasion instead.
Deputies said they were called to the home on Gentry Lane, off Mount Gallant Road near Old York Road, around 6:30 Saturday morning.
Whiteside's children said Whiteside made the call himself. When deputies arrived, they found Whiteside shot.
The children were all in town for the surprise party, said his sister, Elaine Hollis.
"We planned to come over and surprise him at 2 o'clock, but instead we got surprised at 6 o'clock this morning in a big way," said Hollis, tearfully. "Right now, we don't know if he's gonna make it or not."
Hollis said a gunshot pierced Whiteside's chest just below his heart, injuring his pancreas, liver, and kidney. He was in critical but stable condition late Saturday evening, said Hollis.
Whiteside's family is heartbroken, and his sons said they believe their father was set up by a young woman he knew.
Before breaking in, said Hollis, the invaders tore the electric meter off the outside wall of the house to cut power. Then they broke in and stole medications, along with Whiteside's Marine necklace with his late wife's wedding ring on it.
"I can't understand why anyone would do that," said Hollis.
Whiteside's family said in true Marine style, Whiteside put up a fight.
"He's a retired Marine," said neighbor Ron Austin. "He wasn't going to be put upon, and he fought 'em and ended up getting shot."
Austin said he saw deputies in another neighbor's yard with evidence possibly dropped by the gunman and the accomplice as they ran away.
"They had tie-down straps, a roll of duct tape, some other small object," said Austin. Another neighbor identified the object as a CO2 canister, like those used in a BB gun.
Whiteside's children are confident investigators will find the people who shot their dad. Their first concern is that their dad recover; their next is that justice is served for a man who spent so many years serving his country.
"Whoever done this," said Hollis, "we want him caught and we want them to answer for this."
Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers of York County at 1-877-409-4321, or submit tips on the Crime Stoppers website at www.yorkcrimestoppers.com.