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Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2007

TN - 14-yr.-old girl, two others shot in face while turkey hunting

By: Melissa Kinton
The Monroe County Advocate, 03-24-2007

Three people were shot in the face during a juvenile turkey hunt about a mile in the woods off Mt. Pleasant Road Saturday morning.

Patricia Dupes of the Mt. Pleasant community, Barbara Sue Butler, Lost Village Lane, Vonore, and Butler’s 14-year-old granddaughter, Shawna Butler, were all treated at UT Medical Center in Knoxville. Dupes and Barbara Sue Butler were in stable condition Saturday night while Shawna Butler was treated and released.

“There were no shots in their eyes, which was a blessing,” said Doug McKenzie, an agent with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. McKenzie and TWRA led the investigation into the shooting.

The hunting party, three women and three juveniles (all related), entered the Cherokee National Forest before dawn. Shortly before 8 a.m., one of the juveniles, a 14-year-old boy hunting with his mother, thought he saw a turkey.

He fired once, hitting Barbara Sue and Shawna Butler and Dupes in the face with shotgun pellets. Dupes’ 8-year-old granddaughter Cassidy Brannon was also in the woods with the family but was not hit.

When he heard the women screaming, the boy realized what happened and went to get help. But when help arrived, neither he nor his mother was forthcoming with information to authorities.

“They denied it at first because I think they were afraid of being attacked,” said McKenzie.

According to McKenzie and Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies at the scene, some of the family members who had not been hunting but lived nearby came to the scene and threatened whoever shot the women.

TWRA took the mother and son to Mt. Pleasant Church for questioning where he said they later confessed.

“They were very regretful about it,” said McKenzie. He said he told them they should ask their family for forgiveness.

Authorities are not releasing the boy’s name or his mother’s name because the boy is expected to be charged in juvenile court. McKenzie said he didn’t know yet if he would charge the boy with aggravated assault or reckless endangerment.

“We’re not asking that he be taken away from his parents. No malice was involved,” said McKenzie.

He said the reason he was charging the boy, even though the shooting was accidental, was because the boy had attended a hunter’s education course and “knew better.” McKenzie said he hoped the boy’s hunting privileges would be suspended for a while and he would be required to re-take the hunter’s education course. The boy’s gun was seized.

TWRA worked into the evening at the scene of the shooting, using a dog to find the “wad” that came out of the boy’s shotgun when he fired. The TWRA agents were able to determine exactly where in the woods the shooting happened and even the direction in which the shot was fired.

When the call went out for emergency response around 8 a.m., rescuers did not know if anyone had been seriously injured or killed or if the shooting had been intentional. The Monroe County Rescue Squad brought the injured women out of the woods on ATVs.

Monroe County Emergency Medical Services and Sheriff’s Office, Citico and Mt. Pleasant Fire Departments, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and TWRA all responded to the scene.

Traffic on Citico Road was backed up for more than a mile as the details of the early morning shooting first began to unfold. Local residents even turned out to help.

“This family is a rather extended family,” explained McKenzie. “Many, many family members came out.”

Saturday was the first day of the two-day Young Sportsmen’s Wild Turkey Hunt. McKenzie said he hoped Sunday would be a better day for hunting.

Melissa Kinton may be reached at 337-7101 or mcanews7@xtn.net.

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