A Christian County prosecutor has decided that the man who accidentally shot a 4-year-old girl while target shooting on Oct. 28 of last year will not face any charges.
Zoie Dougan and her mother, Alyssa, had gone to their friends’ house near Rogersville so Zoie could play with the family’s children. Documents state that the women were outside near the driveway painting a headboard while their children played nearby.
Meanwhile, a man had gone over to his father’s house next door to get a .22 caliber rifle, with which he intended to go squirrel hunting. As he told investigators, he made eye contact with the women as he walked through the yard and headed to a shed. One of the women reported that although she saw him carrying a case, she thought it simply contained tools.
His rifle loaded, the man leaned against the shed, closed one eye, and aimed at a bottle in the burn pile, some 70 feet away.
At the same time, as the women indicated in their reports, Zoie and another young girl were running toward a swing set in the yard.
After the man fired a single shot, he heard one of the women yell, “What was that?” and saw both women running into the area where he had just fired. Zoie was lying on the ground between the shed and the swing set.
As the report states, the man “never saw Zoie enter his sight picture as he looked through the scope.”
Alyssa Dougan rushed over to her daughter and found Zoie bleeding from her head.
When deputies arrived, they discovered a frantic, emotional scene. Emergency personnel attempted to save Zoie, but she was unconscious and struggling to breathe. “Don’t let [the man] get in trouble, it was an accident,” Dougan, crying and shocked, reportedly told deputies.
Zoie was taken by helicopter to Cox hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
The man, who was in shock and claiming it was a “complete accident," was tested at the scene for alcohol. It was determined that he had not been drinking. In a later interview, the man told investigators that “this is something he will never forget and that he should have known better.”
On Wednesday, prosecutor Amy Fite told a reporter that she made her decision after reviewing statements from the sheriff’s department. Although she did not elaborate on her decision, sheriff’s documents indicate that the man did not know Zoie Dougan was in front of him when he fired and that he was distraught and apologetic after the shooting.
The only critical wording in the statements shows a sheriff’s detective telling the man that the direction in which he was firing “was extremely dangerous.” Because he was shooting near a road, his actions could be considered “carelessness.”
Alyssa Dougan has expressed that she is sure the incident was an accident; a friend of the family has stated that she was “showing grace” to the shooter, who was her close friend.