December 22, 2012

Maine moviegoers get message on hunting

Several theaters are using a safety promotion that features a Windham man who accidentally killed someone while hunting.

By Jason Singer
Assistant City Editor / Online

WESTBROOK – Like hundreds of other Mainers, Wesley Pelletier attended a midnight showing last week of "The Hobbit," the long-awaited prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

click image to enlarge

William Briggs fights back tears during his May sentencing.

Gregory Rec / Staff Photographer

Before the movie started, an advertisement came on.

"It was just some dude in the woods, talking about how he had accidentally shot his friend while hunting," said Pelletier, who is 17.

"It was really sobering. It definitely grabbed your attention."

That "dude" was William Briggs, 62, of Windham, who accidentally shot and killed another hunter in November 2011 after not identifying his target.

Briggs was sentenced in May to three years in prison, with all but 45 days suspended.

The Maine Warden Service produced the commercial this fall to promote safe hunting, and ran it in "seven or nine" theaters in November and part of December, said Doug Rafferty, director of information and education for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The theaters stretched from Biddeford to Bangor, he said.

The service didn't have a copy available for viewing or dissemination Friday. Rafferty said it chose to show it in theaters, rather than on television, because it's difficult to get on TV during election season.

Witnesses described the ad as a sullen Briggs -- looking down at the ground -- talking about the heart-wrenching act of taking another person's life because of his mistake.

"It was meant to be sobering," Rafferty said. "We were mostly trying to reach the hunting crowd, but if we got anyone's attention, it was worth it."

The commercial ends with Rafferty telling viewers, "You can't take a bullet back."

Some people who have seen the ad in theaters have wondered aloud if it reached the intended audience. But everyone who was interviewed described it as notable.

"For a crowd that was amped up and full of fanboys and fangirls, it was definitely a buzzkill," said Nicole Miller, 28, who attended a weekend showing of "The Hobbit" at the Nickelodeon theater in downtown Portland. "I'm not a hunter, but I'm sure if you were one, it got your attention."


Staff Writer Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:


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