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MN: Hunter shoots woman in her home

November 12, 2010

Hunting accident results in charges

Edward Kotek Jr. is facing a misdemeanor charge following a hunting accident.

Kotek, 42, was hunting with his son in rural Montgomery last Saturday when a shotgun shell he fired at a deer traveled hundreds of feet past its target and struck an elderly woman in her arm while she was in the kitchen of her home.

The shell did not puncture the woman's skin, but she did experience bruising and numbness in the arm and was transferred to District One Hospital for medical attention.

According to the DNR Conservation Officer Julie Siems, Kotek's shot was criminally reckless because he shot across a road. Even if he hadn't hit anyone, it still would've constituted a criminal offense.

"There was no intent at all, but it wasn't a safe location," she said, adding that the spot from which Kotek shot "is not an acceptable location because there is a road between the house and where he was."

DNR Safety Education Coordinator Mike Hammer said the incident isn't being charged-out because Kotek shot across a road, but because he hit a woman.

"You've got to be responsible for your shot, and if you don't know what is beyond your target, then you are responsible," he said.

Hammer said based on what he's heard about the incident, it appears Kotek was shooting at a "skyline animal" - that is, an animal that a shooter sees on the top of a ridge where the area behind the animal on the other side of the ridge is not visible.

"One of the first things we teach people is never to shoot at a skyline animal," he said.

Recklessly discharging a firearm is a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum punishment of 90 days imprisonment or a $1,000 fine. The DNR criminal complaint reports that Kotek is planning to fight the charge.

Minnesota State Statute makes it a criminal offense to discharge a firearm from a road right-of-way, ditch, or across a road. Shooters also have to stay at least 500 feet away from any inhabited structure unless they receive permission from a property owner to shoot in closer proximity.

Municipalities can establish more stringent discharge restrictions if they choose.

The statewide deer hunting season wraps up Sunday. Siems has patrolled Rice County for at least part of the day each day this season, and added that reckless discharge is something she rarely encounters.

"Very seldom do I encounter or get calls about reckless discharge," she said.

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