A Long Island district attorney plans to bring charges against a man who shot and killed his hunting buddy claiming he “thought he saw an antler.”
Charles Bruce, 52, was shot and killed on a hunting trip last year. The Malverne volunteer firefighter was hunting deer with other firefighters in Westford, N.Y. on Nov. 16.
Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl says Bruce was walking out of the woods when one of the other men, who was in a tree stand about 60 yards away, shot him in the chest and killed him.
The shooter has not been identified.
"I know he is heartbroken," Muehl said. "But he violated the first rule of hunting. You don't aim your gun at something unless you have positively identified it as a target."
The shooter is now facing charges of negligent homicide or recklessness.
“His excuse was that he didn't see well. He thought he saw an antler," Muehl said of the shooter. "I've never seen a human look like a deer, ever."
Muehl said it was only 4 p.m. and there was plenty of light when the shooting took place.
He implied the shooter, who is also a Malverne firefighter, had a close relationship with Bruce.
"It's a difficult thing to kill your best friend," Muehl said. "But there is no excuse for shooting someone.”
Bruce’s mother, 71-year-old Yvonne Bruce, said she supports the DA’s decision to prosecute.
"I do bear some sympathy for [the shooter], but the grand jury has to run its course," said Yvonne Bruce, who lives in Florida. "I'm sorry, but I lost my son. He was only 52. How can you make such a silly mistake? His kids will never have their father again, and he'll never get to see his grandchildren. It hurts.”
"How can a grown man look like a deer? It's just something that bothers me," she said. "I do believe the only positive that could come out of this is people being a little bit more aware of what they're shooting at before they pull the trigger."
If the shooter has a clean record, he may qualify for a no-jail plea deal, Muehl told the New York Daily News.
The divorced father of two leaves behind a son and daughter, his parents, a brother and two sisters.