Friday, December 17, 2004
BY MATTHEW J. DOWLING
A Mercer County hunter was charged yesterday by the state Division of
Fish and Wildlife with weapons offenses after a pellet from his
muzzle-loading rifle missed a deer on Nov. 22 and struck a contractor
working on a Montgomery Township home, authorities said.
George Hoffman, 53, of Hamilton, was issued charges of careless discharge
of a firearm and negligent use of a firearm by a Fish and Wildlife official,
according to Montgomery Township Police Director Michael Beltranena.
Benny Queli, a contractor from Glen Gardner, reported being hit by the
pellet at 3:15 p.m. Nov. 22 while working on a home on Elm Drive, Beltranena
said. The pellet struck the right side of his chest but did not pierce his
clothing or skin, Beltranena said.
Queli was taken to Somerset Medical Center, where he was treated and
released, he said.
"It is very fortunate that Mr. Queli was not seriously injured in this
matter, but nonetheless, it is important that law enforcement investigate
these matters thoroughly to make sure that those who choose to ignore our
laws are brought to justice," Beltranena said in a statement. "We must
insist that the safety of our public and residents is ensured."
A joint investigation by the Montgomery police and the Division of Fish
and Game, a part of the Department of Environmental Protection, led to
Hoffman, he said.
Hoffman fired his muzzle-loading rifle at a deer in a field adjacent to
Elm Drive and missed, Beltranena said.
A similar incident of stray shotgun pellets was reported earlier this
month when several holes were found in a Warren Township home.
Two bullets pierced windows on the first and second floors of the home on
Dec. 3 while the residents were there, but no one was injured, police said.
The homeowners did not discover the window holes and six similar holes in
the siding until the next day,
when they reported it to authorities, police said. Deer tracks found
around the home caused police to suspect a hunter misfired near the Broken
Arrow Road house.
No one has been charged in that incident and the investigation remains
Matthew J. Dowling can be reached at
or (908) 429-9925.