February 4

Maine squirrel hunter says he accidentally shot ice fisherman

No charges have been filed as game wardens continue to investigate Sunday’s shooting in West Gardiner.

By CRAIG CROSBY
Kennebec Journal

WEST GARDINER — A local man told police he was trying to shoot a squirrel when he accidentally shot an ice fisherman in the head on Cobbosseecontee Stream on Sunday.

click image to enlarge

District Game Warden Robert Decker inspects a rifle taken from the scene of a shooting Sunday in West Gardiner after an ice fisherman was hit in the head with a bullet on Cobbosseecontee Stream.

Bryan Hickey, 21, of West Gardiner, has not been charged in connection with the shooting as the Maine Warden Service continues to investigate, Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Monday. Authorities do not believe Hickey is a flight risk or poses a threat to the public.

“He hasn’t been arrested because he has been cooperative,” Maloney said. “There won’t be any charges until the investigation is complete.”

Scott Fraley, 54, of Raymond, was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta by Gardiner Ambulance after he was struck in the head while fishing with friends off Manning Drive just before noon.

Police said Fraley’s wounds are not life-threatening and said he was released from hospital Sunday afternoon.

“It was a gunshot wound to the head. It sounds like it was superficial,” District Game Warden Robert Decker said Sunday.

Decker, who described the shooting as a “hunting incident in which someone was shot,” said Hickey “was out shooting his firearm. It’s under investigation at this time, as to what he was shooting at.”

Decker said it appears Hickey “accidentally shot at the victim.”

A report released by Maine State Police on Monday said a man was found in the woods carrying a rifle. The man is not identified as Hickey in the report, but wardens confirmed Sunday that they found Hickey in the woods carrying a Chinese-made rifle, which had a folded bayonet attached.

“He stated that he was in the woods hunting and had just recently attempted to shoot a squirrel that was in a tree,” according to the state police report.

Decker wouldn’t discuss what charges, if any, could be brought because the case was still under investigation. He said investigators will collect information and the district attorney’s office would decide whether to press charges.

It is illegal to hunt on Sunday in Maine.

Decker came out of the woods at 1:30 p.m., escorting Hickey. Before getting into the warden’s truck to be interviewed by Decker, he said he wanted a “clean conscience.”

Hickey was later allowed to leave by himself.

The weapon recovered from Hickey appears to be a Mosin-Nagant type 53 bolt-action rifle, which shoots a large caliber round that is comparable to .30-06.

Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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