updated 3/23/2004 9:09:35 AM ET 2004-03-23T14:09:35

A 10-year-old boy told police he may have accidentally shot to death a postal carrier last summer when he fired a gun through his window at a tree.

The boy told investigators he fired a shot from his home at about the same time that Clayton Smith, 45, was killed, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said. “Based upon what the boy said, it is plausible that it could have occurred that way,” she said.

The boy, whose name was not released, was 9 at the time of the shooting.

Buchanan said one person was taken into custody and charged, but the charges and identity of that person remained sealed. Buchanan said it was undecided whether more charges would be filed.

Postal Inspector Andrew Richards said Monday that authorities recovered the .38 caliber-pistol that was used in the July 2003 shooting of Smith, a case that puzzled investigators.

“The child’s untimely discovery of the gun and curiosity of the weapon resulted in the firing of a single shot at a tree from a window of his residence,” Richards said.

Smith, of Colliers, W.Va., was shot once in the back as he took a break in the corner of a shopping center in Crafton, a Pittsburgh suburb. He died a few hours later.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service took the unusual step of sending out tens of thousands of fliers to residents and businesses, offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible.

Buchanan said investigators received information in the last several days that led them to the boy. Granting the reward was “under consideration,” Buchanan said.

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