Virginia hunting accident leaves man dead www.privateofficer.com
Chatham, VA Dec 31 2011 - Authorities say it was a freak accident: a man in Pittsylvania County shot dead by his neighbor. The man says he was hunting, and made a tragic mistake.
The two men were neighbors. Police say the hunter mistook the man for a deer while he was hunting Thursday afternoon. “A tragedy occurred Friday night at approximately 5:15,” said Karl Martin, the District Supervisor for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Police say 62 year old Harry Hale was hunting. But when Hale pulled the trigger to make the kill, the target wasn’t what he was aiming for. “The victim was shot with a high powered rifle. He was mistaken for, apparently mistaken for a deer,” said Martin.
After firing the high powered rifle, Hale made his way down to the side of the road, where the victim, 57 year old Richie Pope, had fallen.
Realizing his mistake, Hale immediately called 9-1-1.
Police say Pope suffered a severe gunshot wound and later died. Hale was Pope’s neighbor, and at 62 years old, apparently quite the experienced hunter.
Investigators don’t know how he could have made such a grave mistake. “Most people that hunt do have a background with safety in mind. People make mistakes, but relatively few make one of this magnitude,” said Martin.
Lester Bartee has been a hunting instructor for more than 15 years.
“When you raise your firearm and put it to your shoulder, and look down the barrel, that you are absolutely sure of your target before you pull the trigger,” said Bartee. He says hunting accidents are extremely rare. But he says when hunters spend hours; waiting to kill an animal, their mind begins to wander. “And the first little movement that you see, this thing right here, and your eyes tell you, that’s something to shoot at and you pull the trigger,” said Bartee.
Though this seems to be just a tragic mistake, police are saying the shooter could be facing some serious charges. They wouldn’t say if the victim was wearing bright colored clothes or not. But they made it crystal clear, that was not his fault, it’s the hunter’s responsibility to make sure he knows what he’s shooting.