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FL: Two men charged after hunting-related gunshot wound

November 6, 2009

Two men charged after hunting-related gunshot wound

The two men reportedly involved in a hunting-related shooting in the Fort White area in October have been charged in the case.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Gary Stine, 32, of Lecanto, was shot in the left forearm on Oct. 12. He first told the Columbia County Sheriff's Office that he had been bow hunting. According to Stine's initial version of events, Joseph Alan Barnes, 19, of North Carolina, dropped a rifle he had been holding and it fired once, hitting Stine in the arm.

In a news release about the men being charged, wildlife investigator Michael Pridgen said it was never clear why the men had a rifle with them during the archery hunting season. Investigators said they later discovered that both men had been carrying rifles.

Pridgen said it appeared Stine's gunshot wound was self-inflicted. Under questioning, Barnes reportedly recanted his initial story. He told investigators that while he was in his deer stand, he heard a gunshot, then heard Stine calling for help and went to assist him.

"The sheriff’s office seized Stine's .243-caliber rifle as evidence. When I inspected the weapon, I found the safety mechanism was completely unreliable," Pridgen said. "The rifle could be made to fire when the safety was on, either by pulling the trigger or hitting the stock."

Investigators said Stine's motive for telling them a story may have been that he should not have had a gun in his possession. Stine is a convicted felon and was cited by Pridgen for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, hunting deer with a modern gun during archery season and hunting without a proper license or permit.

Barnes, who was reportedly hunting with a 12 gauge shotgun, was charged with hunting without a proper license or permit and attempting to take deer with a modern gun during archery season.

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