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DA: Homicide Charge Possible in Death of Malverne Firefighter

Shooter mistook Charles Bruce, 52, for a Deer when he pulled the trigger on Nov. 16.

Upstate prosecutors are moving for an indictment against a Malverne man who accidentally shot a fellow firefighter while on a deer-hunting trip in November.

Charles Bruce, 52, was killed when he and the shooter, who's name hasn't been released, were on an annual trip in Westford, NY. The shooter allegedly thought Bruce was a deer when he pulled the trigger.

Prosecutors told The Daily News that they've gathered evidence that will be presented to the Grand Jury in about a month. The shooter is facing charges of criminally negligent homicide or recklessness, they said.

“His excuse was that he didn't see well. He thought he saw an antler," Otsego County District Attorney Muehl said of the shooter. "I've never seen a human look like a deer, ever."

He added that no evidence was found to suggest drugs or alcohol played a role in the Nov. 16 incident, and if the shooter has a clean record, he could be given a no-jail plea-deal. 

"I'm sorry, but I lost my son," Bruce's mom Yvonne told The Daily News. "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."

From The Daily News

The shooter's high-powered rifle had a scope, so it's possible he saw the branch pattern [on Bruce's camouflage coveralls] and "mistook" it for antlers when he pulled the trigger, killing Bruce instantly, Coroner James Dow said Friday.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is shoot his friend," Muehl said. "But the first thing you're taught in hunter safety classes is that you never, ever pull the trigger until you know what you're shooting at."

Mocha22 January 15, 2014 at 01:03 PM
I agree with Jackrabbit. This is tragic but it is still a crime called criminal negligent homicide.
Douglas Mortimer January 15, 2014 at 08:02 PM
Mocha- I didn't realize that they had the trial and found him guilty. The police have to do their investigation, & make sure that it was really an accident with no funny business. This is a horrible tragedy for all involved. If the victim wore a camo outfit into the woods, he bears some responsibility. Just pray that something like this never touches your life, either way.
Mocha22 January 16, 2014 at 01:39 PM
Listen, Douglas, I agree this is tragic and probably was an accident. A person is dead! I grew up around guns and hunting. You are always suppose to check your target. His gun had a scope I assume. I don't think you can blame the victim.
Douglas Mortimer January 16, 2014 at 04:23 PM
The story does state that the shooter had a scope. Looking thru a scope gives a different perspective than not, as you probably know. The coroner is the one that stated that the camo coveralls may have played a part in this. The victim chose to use camo. I think there is plenty of blame to go around. As a hunter, do you always feel the same degree of safety while hunting as you do in your backyard. Of course not. Hunting is a dangerous activity. I shoot, but I don't hunt. One of the reasons being just what happened here Let's say a shooter was aiming at a target in his yard, missed and stuck someone down the block I would say criminal negligence. I worked as a transmission operator ( controlling high voltage power lines) for over 30 years. Everything we do is recorded. This is very exacting work, as a mistake can at best put people in the dark or destroy million dollar equipment, and at worst kill someone. Safety is always stressed, and training never stops. One can check, double check, and triple check, and errors still occur. That's just part of being human. It seems like little things always add up to form trouble.
Mocha22 January 17, 2014 at 03:11 PM
My uncle was a foreman in a high voltage power plant in California. He was electrocuted and died due to another worker accidentally flipping the wrong switch.

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