A 55 year-old male from the rural Bentley area was fatally shot during a hunting expedition approximately 13 kilometres west of that community on Nov. 29, when one of his fellow hunters mistook him for a deer.
Philip Moore died at the scene after being shot in the stomach from approximately 300 metres away and as a result, 57 year-old Herbert Stanley Meister of Lacombe was charged with criminal negligence causing death by discharging a firearm and having in his possession a firearm while prohibited from doing so.
According to the Sylvan Lake RCMP, at 4:17 p.m., officers were responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting a man had been shot while a group of four males from the Bentley and Lacombe area, were hunting deer on a heavily wooded field.
All four were hunting in different locations on the same property, which was owned by one of the hunters. One of the shooters believed he saw a deer approximately 300 metres down a cut line and took a shot with a .308 calibre rifle.
The shooter allegedly waited for a period of about one minute and after seeing more movement, fired a second shot. According to police, the shooter said he heard a strange noise and suspected something might be wrong.
The shooter then raced to the site where he found his hunting partner suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen and immediately began performing First Aid and CPR from instructions provided by a 911 dispatcher.
When help arrived, emergency medical technicians attempted resuscitation however the victim did not respond and was deceased on site.
The shooting occurred approximately five hours after a 49 year-old Eckville woman was shot in the leg at a rural residence five kilometres northeast of that community while she sat in a chair in an upstairs bedroom leading police to suspect hunters were possibly too eager to bag an animal before deer hunting season closed later that day.
“The fact that we had two incidents within such a short time; and this is an opinion, but there’s a feeling that maybe caution has been thrown to the wind as hunting season was coming to a close and perhaps it was a case of ‘we’ve got to get our deer’”, said Sgt. Duncan Babchuk of the Sylvan Lake RCMP. It’s a tragic situation. People are out enjoying themselves out hunting in the wilderness and someone has to loose their life because one of the hunters did not confirm his target.”
Meister was arraigned on the charges in Red Deer Provincial Court on Dec. 2.
According to Babchuk, Meister was charged with criminal negligence causing death because he was prohibited from owning firearms from an incident that occurred 12 years ago.
“He was under a firearms prohibition, which he received through sentencing while in court back on June 27 of 1997 in Drumheller. At that time he was involved in a domestic dispute and was charged with pointing a firearm,” Babchuk said, adding Meister may have been incarcerated for a period of time as a result of the domestic dispute and the firearms prohibition wouldn’t have taken effect until Meister was released.
As for the Eckville shooting, Babchuk said he hadn’t received an update on the condition of the woman and police were still investigating.
“There have not been any charges laid so far because we are looking at forensic evidence regarding the firearms. We have to make comparisons to who the rifle owners were and what type of round was recovered at the residence,” he said, adding the bullet fired passed through an exterior wall of the home, an interior wall and a chair before striking the woman in the leg. Further, the bullet passed through the victim’s leg hitting an opposite wall before being found on the floor.
The woman was transported to the Red Deer Regional Hospital by ambulance for treatment of her injuries, which were deemed to be non-life threatening.
In that case, police said four hunters from Balzac, Airdrie and Eckville were in an adjacent field and had taken two shots at a deer. One of the bullets carried on through a stand of trees and struck the residence. All four hunters attended the victim’s home to provide assistance.
While police are still investigating the incident, charges are pending against a 34 year-old from Airdrie who fired the shot. As of press time, no names had been released.