Veteran Wildlife Officer Kills Turkey Hunter
First Wildlife Officer Involved In Shooting In 25 Years
POSTED: 11:43 am EDT April 12, 2009
UPDATED: 10:22 am EDT April 13, 2009
WILKES COUNTY, N.C. -- State wildlife officials said a veteran officer who shot and killed a hunter in Wilkes County early Saturday morning near Cain Creek road on private property had been provoked and was acting in self-defense.
Wildlife Officer Mark Minton was patrolling the area for the first day of turkey hunting season when a confrontation occurred with a hunter, identified as 76-year-old Clyde Coffey.
Capt. Rusty Hunter with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission said the officer acted in self-defense
when he shot and killed Coffey.
"There is no evidence to suggest the officer confused the hunter with an animal," Hunter said. "It appears, from all information gathered, the officer was protecting himself. And I don't know any further details than that."
Mark Minton is a 12-year veteran with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.
Hunter said Minton was patrolling the area checking for bait traps, bag limits and hunting licenses
Coffey's family members said Sunday they doubt Minton's claim that he was provoked. "He was taken from us and he was shot on his own land minding his own business
. Who shoots a 76-year-old on his own land?" Coffey's daughter told WXII12 news.
"He was a family man who loved his family," she added. "They were the center of his world. This was totally senseless. He was the best father, and grandfather and great-grandfather."
Wildlife officials said this is no doubt a difficult time for its officer's and the victim's family.
"I just can't imagine being put in that situation as a law enforcement officer," Hunter said. "Every emotion you can think of as a supervisor of another wildlife officer, knowing that someone has been shot, whether it's an officer or a sportsman -- every emotion you can imagine you go through."
Minton is on administrative leave pending a State Bureau of Investigation inspection.
This is the first wildlife officer-involved shooting in almost 25 years.