Off-Duty State Trooper Mistakes Dog For Deer, Shoots Woman

NORTON, Mass. (CBS/AP) — Police say a 66-year-old woman walking her two dogs just after sunset on Saturday was shot and wounded by a hunter who claimed that he thought she was a deer.

The hunter is State Trooper John Bergeron who was off-duty at the time.

Police say the woman was on a wooded path Saturday evening when Bergeron fired a single shot at her.

State Police said in a statement that Bergeron, an experienced hunter who lives in the area, did not see the victim, and mistook the tails of her two dogs as the tail of a deer.

At this point, investigators believe the shooting was accidental and no charges are expected.

“The incident occurred while he was deer hunting while off-duty. He was properly permitted, in-season, and in an appropriate area for deer hunting,” the statement read. “Upon immediately realizing what had happened, the trooper called the incident in himself and administered medical aid to the woman until EMS arrived.”

The victim, Cheryl Blair, was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where she is recovering from surgery for a fractured pelvis.

Norton, state and environmental police officers are still investigating the shooting.

State regulations allow deer hunting until 30 minutes after sunset.

Sunset on Sunday was at 4:21 p.m.

Police say the shooting took place around 5 p.m., but did not give an exact time.

Investigators seemed to indicate that they believe the shooting took place before 4:51 p.m., which would mark the end of the hunting day.

Both Blair and Bergeron are neighbors in Norton.

State Police also wished Blair “a full and speedy recovery.”

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments

One Comment

  1. firemanmark says:

    First of all;hunting after sunset is illegal.Secondly,and most importantly,if the ‘hunter’ mistook a person for a deer he is a complete moron.Take his guns away from him and give him a dope slap! I hope the poor woman survives and recovers.

    1. naia says:

      OOps, clicked on the wrong button. Someone needs to start a petition on Care2 that this guy is charged. This is flat out negligence and also the woman should sue. This man should not get away with this. If he does…it sets a precedence in this stupid country!

  2. Peg says:

    His guns should be taken away period. He broke the law-no hunting after sunset.

  3. Willow says:

    Don’t hunters see what they’re shooting at first before firing. Thank God this woman survived her injuries.

  4. Doc Dad says:

    Of course he wasn’t charged!

  5. P says:

    Moron should have his FID card removed for life.

  6. M.P. says:

    Sunset was 4:22pm on Saturday. Hunters are allowed to hunt from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset. If the shooting actually occurred at 5:00pm as stated, then the hunter BROKE THE LAW and should be charged, as well as having his license revoked. NOT above the law. Besides, common sense should prevail here…if you cannot SEE, you should not SHOOT. We should be frightened that a man with such poor judgment is in charge of our protection, never mind given a license to hunt.

    1. Nab71 says:

      I had to chase hunters off my property who were still shooting at 6:00 PM on Saturday. They were probably jacking deer. And the speed of the shots tells me ithey wasn’t black powder rifles. As in everything else, the idiots will ruin it for the responsible ones.

    2. Robd says:

      Read the story. It happened AROUND 5, not AT 5. The key is in the words, which you used wrongly, making your whole argument invalid. Sorry bub.

      The whole “half hour after sunset” nonsense is a guideline for legality issues. I can guarantee you that you had NO CLUE when the “official” sunset was last night. Now if this were around 7PM, I can call it on your side, but this was damn near close to the official/legal cutoff time, and for that I say…Oh well. So he went over a couple minutes. The margin of error being allowed here is way too slim.

      Now, the time thing, in my opinion, should be thrown out. Maybe it was dark out, but I wouldn’t call him hunting past the time he should have been. In my own opinion, +/- 10 minutes is fine (morally).

      HOWEVER, that does not excuse the fact that he lacked the respect for his firearm and lacked respect for his target.

      All things told – accidents happen. This was an accident, but it is NOT an excusable accident.

      1. John says:

        An accident would have been if the gun fell out of his hands, this was a mistake, he intentionally pulled the trigger on the wrong target.

        You will go through life hiding and never owning up to anything if you don’t learn the lesson between an accident and a mistake.

      2. firemanmark says:

        Wow! You can guarantee that M.P. had NO CLUE what time the ‘offical’ sunset was? Try reading the newspaper.It doesn’t matter if it happened 2 seconds after sunset.The shooter is a complete moron and should be assigned to a desk job for the rest of his career.Rule # 1 is identify your target BEFORE discharging the weapon.I believe this trooper should be relieved of any and all firearms he may possess.Most people have to go through a competency course to get an FID card.Yet,no charges will be brought by Mass.State Police.Excuse me if I’m wrong but,did this take place in Norton or on RT 495? I don’t see how the Staties have one iota of jurisdiction.The Norton Police need to man up and charge this guy with reckless endangerment.What if it had been a kid walking their dog? They would have bled out before they had a chance.

      3. Martha, spouse of hunter says:

        Actually, any hunter DOES know exactly when sunset is for that day, and should stop hunting with plenty of time left not to push it. Not to mention the fact that it’s actually getting dark ‘around 5pm’. Really, there is no excuse for him to still be hunting at that time and actually take a shot at something that he obviously couldn’t be POSITIVE was a deer. He’s definitely irresponsible and selfish and a moron for this and should have his hunting license revoked if he doesn’t retire it voluntarily. I’m sure he feels horrible and that would be the right thing to do.

  7. jean says:

    Once again the state police are involved in a coverup. They should release the name of the officer who can’t tell a woman from a deer. The public has a right to know.

  8. Dave Francis says:

    Please, for the love of God, DO NOT LUMP ALL HUNTERS INTO THE SAME CATEGORY AS THIS MORON!

  9. Ron T says:

    It’s hard to believe that seeing two tails, belonging to the two dogs, could be mistaken for a single deer!

    The actual shooting time, seems to be questionable, too, as manipulated just enough to be barely in the legal window!

    The storys last paragraph, seems to just gloss over the seriousness, with a “speedy recovery” wish, as if was just like getting over the flu!

    I didn’t read about any remorse from this horrible mistake, either!

  10. JMS says:

    Of course he won’t be charged — he’s a good ol’ boy. Of course he doesn’t feel bad; he probably thinks he should’ve been able to romp through the woods shooting at animals and the woman was wrong for walking her dog in his precious hunting grounds. I really worry about a police officer who kills things for “fun” in his off hours.

  11. Jessica says:

    Deer have different tails than dogs, which dont wag, are shorter, and stick up when alert. Upon receiving a hunting license, the hunter, state trooper or not, is educated to identify its target before shooting. Hunting after the allotted time frame is also reviewed. This person, once again state trooper or not, should have their license revoked, name publicized, and be fined for the two laws he broke. I appreciate the work state troopers do, but being a law enforcer does not mean you are above the law. Rules are rules.

  12. B. MAGUIRE says:

    IF THE OFFICER DID IN FACT SHOOT THE WOMAN WITH A SHOTGUN HE SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH USING A WEAPON OUT OF SEASON. SHOTGUN SEASON ENDED 3 WEEKS AGO. IT WAS WHAT IS CALLED PRIMATIVE ARMS SEASON AND ONLY, MUZZLELOADERS AND BOW AND ARROW ARE ALLOWED AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT.

  13. RICHARD says:

    DEER SEASON WITH A SHOTGUN ENDED ON DEC 10 WHAT IS HE DOING USING THIS TYPE OF WEAPON WHEN ONLY A MUZZLELOADER IS ALLOWED UNTIL DEC 31 WHEN ANY PERSON SHOOTS THEY NEED TO BE SURE WHAT THEY ARE SEEING NOT JUST A TAIL OF AN ANIMAL THIS PERSON NEEDS TO BE PUNISHED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW AND BEING A PERSON WHO IS SUPPOSE TO BE PROTECTING US MAKES IT EVEN WORSE

  14. Reds on Fire says:

    Thank you Mr. Above the law another bad hunting story to make people dislike hunters even more……thank people like him for posted properties…. and shooting after dark to none the less take his hunting permit and fire arms

  15. woodsman says:

    I don’t care who this guy is the FIRST RULE of HUNTING or POLICE WORK is to kow your target before you discharge your firearm, I hope she recovers.

    1. redneckjoe says:

      i agree with you woodsman; i’m from south carolina as a former hunter & license to carry a wepon, always see what your target before pulling the trigger and (never) hunt at dark !!!

  16. Sherri says:

    Hasn’t anyone ever heard of an accident. Not to diminsh what happened to this lady and hopefully she will make a full recovery! Did anyone stop to think how the hunter feels…I would think pretty bad. He has probably been told not to comment because of how quick the media and readers are to assign blame. My prayers go out to everyone involved.

    1. ellen says:

      it is not an accident if rules or laws were broken

    2. Ed Burkhead says:

      This was NOT an “accident.” It was CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE! Shooting at a large animal (or small one) that you cannot CLEARLY see and IDENTIFY is criminal negligence.

      I would so charge him.

      This person does NOT deserve to continue as a law enforcement officer.

  17. 1010SGT says:

    If there is anyone that should be absolutely positive they are shooting at a proper target it should be a Massachusetts State Trooper.
    These chumps have been in the recent press for Drunk Driving, Bribery, Prostitution and now shooting little old lady’s. Good job selecting the best of the best for your cops . The Massachusetts state police are not only the oldest state police organization… They are also the dumbest…
    Good luck getting respect from anyone now.

  18. Becky Corbett says:

    OK… so two sides to every story. Yes- dumb to shoot at dog’s tails. On the flip side- I live by woods and there is no way in hell you would catch me walking my two dogs in the woods as it’s getting dark! Poor judgement on both sides…

    1. ellen says:

      this was still her back yard don’t forget
      why would hunting be allowed on personal property to begin with?

    2. beenworkingsinceage10 says:

      The only poor judgment was that of the shooter.Since when did walking your dog become illegal? Shooting a person,however,is illegal.I guess if I drive like an ahole and get stopped by a statie I can use the” sorry it was an accident excuse?” It was in no way that woman’s fault.The hunter screwed up and the MSP don’t have the marbles to charge one of their own.He’s probably related to a higher-up or some politician.Anyone else would have been held over for arraignment on Tuesday morning for such a idiotic move.

  19. seeley says:

    It was the state policeman so we know it was her fault!!

  20. chris says:

    First off, legal hunting ended at 4:51. This trooper was clearly hunting after legal hunting time had expired. Secondly, it is my understanding that the woman was shot within 50yards, or 150 feet, from her house. It is against the law to discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a house in Massachusetts.. There is the second law that was broken. The trooper failed to properly identify his target. According to the law, this constitutes criminal negligence. His negligence resulted in serious bodily injury to another person, a victim. I am disgusted that law enforcement is going to brush this under the rug and not charge this trooper. He has broken several laws which ultimately caused serious injury to someone “mistake” or not… Just one more example of how police are still above the law. As citizens none of us should tolerate this. I myself have called both the Environmental Police demanding he be charged as well as the Norton Police demanding the time the call came in, which is public record. Do the same.

    1. robd says:

      Where did you get the 50 yards from? I would like to know, because I saw none of that in the article. It would be great if you could point out your source instead of fabricating a lie in your favor.

      Now I’m on your side, I think the “hunter”/”officer” should be charged and arrested, but I’m not going to go around assuming things about the story to make up more charges.

      If you can prove that it was within 50 yards of the home, or withing illegal boundary lines of the home, then go ahead. Until you do that, you just look like an idiot, not helping your case at all.

      1. ellen says:

        it was her back yard robd whether it be 50 yards or 150 yards that is her private property

      2. Robd says:

        @ ellen – where does it say her backyard?

        “Police say the woman was on a wooded path Saturday evening when Bergeron fired a single shot at her.”

        I have trails behind my house that I’m in every day. I don’t go out a mile and say “Oh, this is my backyard”, and I certainly do not assume that this woman was in her back yard.

      3. Robd says:

        “Police say the woman was on a wooded path Saturday evening when Bergeron fired a single shot at her.”

        Where do you see “back yard” or “private property” anywhere.

  21. chris says:

    I really wish the news would probe into this further… Not to mention it would benefit the station that does.. Afterall, an obvious police coverup is far bigger news than a woman being shot.

    1. Ajay says:

      chris,
      I’d like to see that as well. But we both know that it won’t happen. Whenever police are involved, we only get the ‘party line’. The official statement always answers the questions, enen if nobody has asked them yet. He was off duty, hunting in season, within the time, on an allowed property.

      Of course, there’s no chance that he was just another drunken cop firing off his gun on New Year’s Eve. Was he in ‘hunting’ garb with other hunters when it happened? Had he been drinking? What sort of gun… a hunting rifle? or his pistol? Police are always to-the minute when reporting times. Why is this one around sundown…or 5 pm? What time was the 911 call made? Or was his first call to his union rep?

      Its good to be a cop. You’re always well above the law.

  22. Garry Burke says:

    Isn’t the foot a better target than a women walking there dog?

  23. buddy says:

    Hmmm, Maybe he was under the influence? Perhaps he was out in the woods with Jamesson to keep warm. Regardless he should not be alowed to carry a gun whether it be on the job or in the woods.

    I can’t wait to see the outcome of this? I guarantee that no charges are filed at all. What will his excuse be when he shoots another human? What a complete idiot.

    Funny you don’t see any comments by cops on this. Only when it doesn’t go in their favor is when they all jump on the band wagon and wah wah this is mwhat the law states. Well read the law regarding hunting.

  24. chris says:

    I spoke with the Town of Norton Police Dispatch this morning. The call record, which is public, shows that the 911 call was received between 4:55 and 4:56pm on Saturday. This clearly shows that the trooper was hunting after legal shooting time had expired which is against the law. Furthermore, he was hunting deer out of season as well since deer season ended completely at 4:51pm on Saturday. Given these facts, several laws were broken by this trooper which resulted in serious bodily injury. This trooper should be held criminaly responsible for his actions. Nobody is above the law… This is a very clear example of a police cover-up and should not be tolerated. My next call is to the District Attorney.

  25. William Nagle says:

    WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? If this was a non”connected” person they would be sitting in jail while the State Police conducted a “complete and thorough”investigation.
    Where is equal justice under the law? Was this idiot alcohol and drug tested? We surely would be. Why is he not being charged with illegal discharge of a fire arm? You are supposed to be 100% certain of what you are shooting at. Or suffer the cosequences (which are appearently none if you are a Ma. state trooper.
    Would you be able to get away with “we wish you a speedy recovery” “Have a happy new year ‘. ?
    TYPICAL MASSACHUSETTS COVER UP !!!!

  26. Ron T says:

    Actually, the biggest problem is the (protect your own) attitude of the state police authority, more than that hunter, himself, who, hopefully, is feeling remorse for his bad choice!

    True, a civilian hunter could have done the same, as have happened in the past, but the authorities would have viewed it differently, than one of their own!

  27. emmom says:

    Wait he broke multiple rules and laws and will not be charge. WOW what does that tell you about our justice system.. Clearly He is above the law and we as ordinary citizens are being held hostage to that. When we can not even walk out side to walk our pets ,, 150 feet is not that long of a distance, My driveway alone is 100 feet, many backyards can be 150 feet. So she would have had plenty of rights to take her dog out for a way around her house.. How many pet owns have pets that neeed to go out at night you going to deny them that,, I doubt it. This so called hunter with lack of eye contact on his target, was clearly in the wrong and therefore should pay the penalty as would any other person in this situation. NO EXCEPTIONS AT ALL.

  28. emmomm says:

    Wait he broke multiple rules and laws and will not be charge. WOW what does that tell you about our justice system.. Clearly He is above the law and we as ordinary citizens are being held hostage to that. When we can not even walk out side to walk our pets ,, 150 feet is not that long of a distance, My driveway alone is 100 feet, many backyards can be 150 feet. So she would have had plenty of rights to take her dog out for a way around her house.. How many pet owns have pets that neeed to go out at night you going to deny them that,, I doubt it. This so called hunter with lack of eye contact on his target, was clearly in the wrong and therefore should pay the penalty as would any other person in this situation. NO EXCEPTIONS AT ALL.

  29. mikili98 says:

    Did you see her mug, no wonder he mistook her for being a deer.

    Hmmm, what would have happenned if I shot someone and claimed I thought it was a deer.

    I think a pair of handcuffs would have been in the picture.

  30. Solid Citizen says:

    If I had my dog out in the woods during hunting season, he’d be wearing orange

    Quo warranto, B.O.?

  31. Pete Michaud says:

    I’m 56 and being a hunter all my life and having originally lived most my life in Maine, the biggest rule of the woods is to recognized FULLY your target. Also, you cannot fire a weapon within 100yrds. of any building and or street. But on the other hand was this woman wear some blazing orange while going through the woods, unfortunatly I myself have come across this problem in the woods with people walking there dogs or just taking a walk. Seems to me the husband being a trainer for hunting safety and knowing that it was hunting season and living where hunters DO hunt he should have told his wife to wear brite colors to take this walk. Orange is not a very fashionable color but in this case would make things a little more safer. So I guess there plenty of blame to go around. Hope this lady gets well sone.

    1. Li Buchanan says:

      Are you freaking kidding? If someone with a gun can not tell the difference between dogs and deer… What the heck are they doing with a gun? What does a husband or anyone else have to do with advise about where to walk dogs or clothing colors? NOT FOR NOTHING… If Idiots with guns can’t tell the difference between dogs, deer, and humans, then they shouldn’t be carrying weapons! BTW did you NOT freaking get that the idiot off duty Trooper shot the HUMAN, not the dogs that he claimed looked like deer!?!

  32. DJ says:

    What an insensitive comment, what does it matter what YOU think this poor woman looks like.

  33. Maine Huntress says:

    IF anything was at err here and nothing is done,then people should keep this case in hand when or if they ever do(or know anyone that has or happens to) the same thing and use it for their own benefit.Ignorance is no excuse for the law and I have had wardens say this to me many times.Shooting at a tail wagging and not identifying your target is complete ignorance!!!!!!!!

  34. Johnny Appleseed says:

    Come’on people… pretty obvious isn’t it? Guy was probably drunk and it’s being covered up with the “he’s one of ours” rule…

    Occam’s razor

  35. robd says:

    ellen, stop this nonsense NOW. There is NOWHERE that it says it was in her backyard. For all we know it was a mile into the woods with nobody around. There is NO hint into where in the woods this happened. STOP assuming for your own benefit, it makes you look like a complete idiot.

  36. Jeff Westfall says:

    This by someone who the courts look to for expert eyewhitness testamoney.
    This proves that they really are a bunch of clowns.

  37. Vance says:

    If it were you or I that pulled the trigger, we would be in jail. As the system refuses to prosecute one of its own, I hope she files a civil action

  38. Ann says:

    Who in the hell goes for a “walk in the bush” with two dogs that LOOK like deer during HUNTING SEASON!! really?!

    Lastly, every hunter knows (as do I) that you must confirm your target before you shoot.

    Accidents happen.

    1. Martha, spouse of hunter says:

      Really? personally, I think the ‘walkers’ take precedent over the hunters so con’t imply it’s her fault….victim blaming. And dogs and deer really don’t look that much alike..unless they are huge and they have their tails painted white maybe.
      Accidents happen but I bet you would feel a bit differently if it were your family member who got shot, or if she were killed. But I do agree with you that the hunter should know their target.

    2. Li Buchanan says:

      LOL! Um, do you know the difference between dogs and deer? These were two old companion dogs walking with their human. You might notice, if you read what happened, that neither of the dogs, that the “off duty State Trooper” said looked like deer, were shot by him. The off duty Trooper shot the HUMAN. So, the human that was walking with her two old dogs, was shot. Not the dogs, “that looked like deer”!

  39. Smarter Than A Cop says:

    I’m doing research paper, and the thesis statement is, should animal hunting be allowed? Well, this is a great example of why it shouldn’t be! What an idiot, how i the world do you mistake a dog for a deer? Answer: You have to be an idiot.

  40. Li Buchanan says:

    WOW! A trained State Police officer that is trained to recognize dangerous criminals from innocents….hunts and kills wildlife, Did not know the difference between dogs and a deer?

    WOW! So the State Police and Internal Investigation just cover up, and blow off any questions about that State Trooper that apparent is still on the job. Still carrying a gun, and this is the same State Trooper that can’t tell the difference between a deer and a couple of long-haired golden retrievers?

    So, how is his focus on children or other Innocent people?

  41. Li Buchanan says:

    The State Police, and the so-called internal investigation, that allow that Trooper to stay on the job, when he can not tell the difference between dogs and deer… Just shows how frightening the State Police cover-up, and what civilians have to expect from our so-called officers that are supposed to protect us.

  42. Li Buchanan says:

    Meanwhile, the human has had how many surgeries? Now disabled. And no freaking apology or help from that shooter.

    What if the victim was the Trooper?

  43. Li Buchanan says:

    Wow! Just another example of another idiot with a gun! Most scary, is that his bosses in the State Police, are just blowing off this Trooper’s inability to recognize his target. Oof! I wonder if that Trooper’s bosses would want him to respond to their home, if their was an intruder into their home. Scary.

  44. Li Buchanan says:

    Lessons learned>

    1) Do NOT walk your dogs where State Police hunt.
    2) Do NOT depend of State Police to do best investigation of a crime, when one of their own is a possible suspect.
    3) Do NOT expect any Trooper to own up for anything that the Trooper might have done wrong. They will “Lie and deny” rather than admit they did anything wrong. That is their mantra.
    4) Curious, if after all those surgeries that the lady has had to go through, all the help from neighbors….Are there any Troopers that are helping her, and her family?

  45. Li Buchanan says:

    Um, so the off duty State Trooper said that he thought the dogs were deer. Did anyone get that he shot the human, NOT the dog’s that he “thought” were deer?

    WOW! Talk about a lousy eye, and shot!

  46. Li Buchanan says:

    WOW! Anyone want that Trooper protecting your family with his weapon? LOL! NOT ME!

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