SEBAGO — Wardens and a representative of the Maine Attorney General’s Office were back in the woods of Sebago on Monday, trying to recreate the circumstances under which a 46-year-old father of two was killed by another hunter over the weekend.

The death – along with two other accidental shootings Friday – has tarnished the outset of this year’s hunting season and prompted hunting advocates and state officials to call for a renewed focus on safety.

Peter Kolofsky was hunting alone Saturday afternoon not far from his house on Hogfat Hill Road when he was shot by William Briggs, 61, of Windham.

Briggs – who has hunted in that area for years – was hunting with his brother north of Hogfat Hill Road when he shot Kolofsky in the chest with a rifle, even though Kolofsky was wearing a hunter orange hat and vest as required by state law.

The shooting was reportedly from a significant distance at 4:45 p.m., about 45 minutes before sunset, officials said. Briggs immediately called 911 on his cellphone and Sebago rescue workers responded but pronounced Kolofsky dead at the scene.

The shooting appears unintentional and there is no indication that Briggs was impaired, several investigators said.

A person responsible for a hunting fatality must provide a blood sample to check for alcohol or drugs. However, investigators said they wouldn’t comment on the status of the investigation so it was not immediately known if Briggs was tested, or whether investigators had the results.

Prosecutors are trying to decide whether Briggs’ behavior was a gross deviation from what a reasonable and prudent hunter, given similar circumstances, would have done.

“This is a homicide in the sense that it’s a death as a result of another person’s conduct. It can be lawful. It can be unlawful,” Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said. “We need to know more circumstances because we’re talking about hunting activity and somebody engaged in an activity they are authorized to do by law.”

In a separate shooting, a New Hampshire man was shot in the stomach Friday while target shooting in Raymond. He was hospitalized in critical condition, but his condition has improved. If he survives, the local county district attorney will have to decide whether to charge the shooter, Travis Wood, 29, of Windham.

In Sebago, investigators interviewed witnesses, collected forensic evidence and were establishing distances and sight lines at the precise time when the shooting occurred to recreate the scene, officials said.

Briggs is cooperating with the investigation, said Lt. Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service. Scott said Briggs, his brother and Kolofsky were all experienced hunters.

A woman answering the door at Briggs’ home in Windham on Monday declined to comment.

Friends on Monday remembered Kolofsky as a devoted father and husband, a logger, carpenter and commercial fisherman who worked hard on behalf of his family and was generous with his neighbors.

“He was such a good soul … As far as the town of Sebago, there’s a short list of people you would count on to do anything for everybody,” said Alan Greene, a deputy fire chief. “It’s just such a tragedy somebody like that’s gone.”

Greene was a member of the rescue crew that responded on the call and was sitting with Kolofsky’s widow after she was notified of his death.

“Peter was just her whole world,” he said, choking up. “They had been together for close to 30 years, right out of high school.”

“Her big concern now is that people learn from this,” he said. “All of us that hunt need to be extra careful, whatever the outcome of this.”

Greene said Briggs and his family have hunted the area for years and are well known in town.

“Those guys are great guys. I don’t want to take the focus off Peter but I feel devastated for Bill’s family as well,” he said.

Kolofsky is survived by his widow and two children, Maria, 15, and Thomas, 9.

“Peter loved to hunt and fish in the Maine woods and had been doing so for the majority of his life,” said his friend David Lockman.

Steve Athanosios remembers exactly when he first met Kolofsky. Eleven years ago, Athanosios’ house burned down and Kolofsky showed up to help. He also brought bottles his daughter had saved up so Athanosios could use the redemption money.

Several accidental shootings have taken place this hunting season, but the number so far doesn’t appear out of the ordinary, Scott said. There are typically eight to 10 per season, he said.

“Hunting still is a very, very safe sport. There’s no reason to panic,” Scott said.

The hunting season started Oct. 29 and firearm season runs through Nov. 26. The state has 200,000 licensed hunters. The last hunting fatality in the state was in 2008, when a New Gloucester man accidentally shot himself in Piscataquis County.

“When three incidents like this happen in a row, it’s frustrating and we try to use it as a tool to remind people to be safe,” said Edith Smith, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

A celebration of Kolofsky’s life will be held at Watson Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday. Visitation will be held at the funeral home Friday from 1 to 2 p.m., followed by a Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bridgton.

The Kolofsky Memorial Fund has been set up at TD Bank. For more information, call (207) 647-5884.

The spot where Kolofsky was hunting is accessed by a dirt road that is less than a quarter-mile from his home.

“It could have been any of us,” Kurt Christensen said, his voice breaking. “We all hunt here. Our kids hunt here.”

Christensen said he will continue to hunt in the spot.

“I’ll go back there and hunt. I’ll make a point of it,” he said.

“Out of respect,” Lockman added.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]

 

Staff Writer Ann Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]