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PA: hunter shot by felon

June 2, 2010

Wounded hunter to recover, father says Police arrest shooter

DANVILLE A Danville area man who was shot while turkey hunting should recover, even though he was hit by 28 shotgun pellets, a family member said Monday.

Jeff Blue, 52, of 806 Kaseville Road, was listed in serious condition in Geisinger Medical Center on Tuesday. Eight of the pellets hit him in the head.

"He's going to be OK," said Blue's father, Jim, adding that none of the pellets hit a vital organ. "He was very lucky."

Mahoning Township police have charged Michael Todd Kelly, 44, of 102 Beaver Place, with six offenses, including shooting, then failing to help Blue at about 11 a.m. Monday in a wooded area off Woodhill Road on Montour Ridge.

Kelly was also charged with illegally possessing a gun because he is a convicted felon, having been charged under the Drug Device and Cosmetic Act in 1993, police said.

Kelly has admitted the shooting, police said.

According to charges filed by Mahoning Township Cpl. Clay Fahringer and Game Commission officer Ricky Deiterich, Kelly used a borrowed Mossberg 12-gauge pump action shotgun while turkey hunting. Monday was the last day of spring gobbler season.

Blue was walking on a trail when Kelly discharged the shotgun, striking Blue in the head and chest, police said.

Kelly approached Blue, who was still conscious, police said. Blue handed Kelly his cell phone and asked him to call for help.

At that time, Kelly's uncle, Sam Kelly, no address listed, arrived. "Come on, Uncle Sam. I can't get caught with this gun," Michael Kelly said, according to the charges.

Michael and Sam Kelly then fled without helping Blue, police said.

A short time later, both Kellys were stopped by Riverside and Mahoning Township police, but denied any involvement in the shooting.

Michael Kelly attempted to conceal the shotgun and ammunition in a shed at Sam Kelly's home, police said. Later Kelly returned the shotgun to its owner, and police recovered it.

Blue, who was taken to Geisinger by ambulance, later identified Michael Kelly as the person who shot him, police said.

Kelly was arraigned Monday night by on-call Bloomsburg District Judge Russell Lawton and committed to the Montour County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Police charged Kelly with aggravated assault, illegal possession of a firearm, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, two counts of shooting at or causing injury to human beings, fleeing or failing to render immediate and full assistance to the person injured and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

Montour County District Attorney Robert Buehner Jr. said officials had to locate and rescue Blue.

"Game Commission officers had to be called out to respond," he said. "One gentleman came from Columbia County and another from Union County. What was paramount was the medical condition of Jeff Blue."

This was the second turkey hunting accident in a month in the Central Susquehanna Valley.

On Tuesday, a Mifflinburg man waived his right to a preliminary hearing on a probation violation related to the shooting of a New Berlin turkey hunter in May.

Leroy Allen Miller, 42, of 740 Smith Road, will face Union County Court action for illegal possession of a firearm when he allegedly shot Michael Hobbins, 48, of 525 High St., New Berlin, in the chest and face while hunting on state game lands in Limestone Township, Union County.

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