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Officials: Hopkinton bicyclist shot at park in apparent hunting accident



Monitor staff
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A 27-year-old woman was hit by bullet fragments while riding her bicycle, apparently fired by a hunter who was shooting at a deer near Elm Brook Park in Hopkinton on Tuesday afternoon. She was not seriously injured.

An average of three to four firearm accidents involving hunting happen in New Hampshire each year, but usually hurt only the hunter or another member of the hunting party. This appears to be the first case in decades of a bystander being shot by a hunter in the state.

“I’ve been in New Hampshire 20 years and I can’t think of one,” said Maj. Jim Juneau, assistant chief of law enforcement for New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Juneau said that, from 2000 to 2014, the state saw 53 firearms-related incidents resulting in injury requiring medical attention due to hunting. Of those, 19 were self-inflicted and 10 involved a gun going off after the hunter fell, often from a tree stand.

Few of them are fatal. The most recent fatality occurred in Lisbon in 2011, when a 31-year-old hunter was shot by another hunter on the opening day of firearms season for deer, which is by far the most popular hunting season of the year.

In Maine this year, a woman was killed Oct. 28, the first day of firearms deer season in that state, after being shot by a hunter while in the yard behind her rural home.

According to New Hampshire Fish and Game, Tuesday’s incident occurred about 4:20 p.m. on Hall Road, an unpaved access road on U.S. Army Corps of Engineering property in Elm Brook Park.

A Hopkinton woman, who was not identified, was riding a mountain bike east in a heavily wooded area. She was wearing “brightly colored clothing,” Juneau said, although it’s unclear whether this included clothing showing what is known as blaze orange or hunter orange, a bright hue that is not noticed by deer.

“As she came to an area of the road that is fairly open, she heard a single gunshot and shortly thereafter realized she had been struck by a bullet. She received a non-life threatening injury as a result of the gunshot. She was treated and released from Concord Hospital yesterday evening,” according to a Fish and Game press release.

A 34-year-old suspect, also from Hopkinton, was interviewed by Fish and Game conservation officers as well as officers from Hopkinton Police Department shortly after the incident occurred. The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed.

“The initial investigation of the shooting leads Conservation Officers to believe that the suspect was shooting at a deer and failed to see the victim on her mountain bike in the background,” the release said.

The hunter was firing a rifle, not a shotgun. Deer hunting season with all types of firearms began Nov. 8 and continues through the first week of December in most of New Hampshire.

“This serves as a reminder to every hunter that’s out in the woods: Always be sure of your target and what’s beyond it, and exercise caution,” Juneau said. The bullet from a high-powered hunting rifle can travel as far as a mile in flat, open land.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com.)