CO: Off-duty L.A. County sheriff's deputy kills hunting companion
November 19, 2010
Off-duty L.A. County sheriff's deputy kills hunting companion
In a freak accident in rural Colorado, his rifle goes off after he
tumbles down a steep incline and the bullet strikes his friend in the head.
An off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy killed his hunting
companion in a freak accident during a trip in rural Colorado, officials
said. The unidentified deputy was elk hunting with a small group on a
friend's property last week. That friend was guiding the deputy down a steep
incline during a morning trek when he tumbled to the ground. Almost
immediately afterward, the deputy fell too, dropping his rifle and causing
it to go off, authorities said. The shot struck the deputy's friend in the
head, killing him instantly.
Authorities identified the victim as 68-year-old James Ayer. An
investigation is ongoing, but local officials are calling the shooting an
accident - and one of the most bizarre they have come across. "This is very
rare," said Montrose County Coroner Thomas Canfield. "I've been here 40
years [and] I've never seen an accident like this."
The shooting has drawn the attention of local media in Colorado, but law
enforcement officials there have declined to release the shooter's name
until their investigation is completed and their findings are presented to
prosecutors, as is protocol. Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve
Whitmore confirmed that the hunter whose rifle went off is a deputy with the
department, but declined to identify him. "The department, as always, offers
its support. Anything the deputy needs is there," Whitmore said, adding that
the deputy declined to be interviewed, and has returned to work.
Local officials described the terrain where the party was hunting as
mountainous. Recent weather had left the area wet. "Elk-hunting terrain is
usually not flat," said Montrose County Undersheriff Kevin Walters. "Terrain
out there can change very quickly from level flat to steep." Walters said he
does not anticipate criminal charges in connection with the Nov. 9 incident,
which occurred near the town of Maher. "It is a terrible accident," he said.
"It's definitely not something you see every day but in our opinion, it's an
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