On Saturday morning there was a deadly confrontation in the woods of Wilkes County off of Cane Creek Road between a turkey hunter and a North Carolina Wildlife Officer that has a family asking what happened.
N.C. Wildlife Commission Capt. Rusty Hunter said Wildlife Officer Mark Minton was patrolling during the first day of turkey hunting season when the confrontation happened about 7:30 a.m.
The commission said the shooting happened on private property in the Cane Creek area of Wilkes County.
The hunter who was killed, Clyde Coffey, was a 77-year-old from Lenoir. Reports indicate he died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Hunter told television reporters there was no evidence suggesting Minton confused the hunter with an animal. Instead, it appeared the officer was protecting himself, Hunter said.
“An armed confrontation with a hunter resulted in Officer Minton firing a shot, apparently in self-defense, which led to the death of the alleged assailant,” the Wildlife Resources Commission said in a statement.
Minton is on administrative leave while the State Bureau of Investigation reviews the incident.
The family does not believe Officer Minton’s account
“He’s minding his own business sitting in a tree stand. He hadn’t been there long. My dad had a gun, he was turkey hunting! But my dad’s gun never fired. And ther was only two of them there, and my dad’s gone. He can’t tell his side,” said Clyde’s daughter Debbie Robbins.
The unofficial story as best as I can gather it is as follows;
Officer Minton had reason to believe that the area this incident took place was illegally baited and he went on to the posted private land to catch someone hunting over the bait. Officer Minton found Mr. Coffey hunting out of a treestand and confronted him. Mr. Coffey was hard of hearing that could of made communication difficult and some reports that officer Minton was dressed in Camo clothing that day and not the traditional uniform. Or at least his uniform was covered up. At some point Mr. Coffey did something that put Officer Minton’s life in danger and he shot Mr. Coffey with his service weapon one time in the chest killing him.
Mr. Coffey’s family report that this type of behavior is out of character for him and they question what happened. As far as I can tell there were no witnesses to the confrontation so the SBI investigation will have to focus on the physical evidence to piece this together.
Officer Minton is a seasoned officer with 12 years working with the Wildlife Commission so it is reasonable to assume he has the experience and skills to exhaust all other avenues before he used deadly force.
Someone made a bad choice that morning whether it was Mr. Coffey or Officer Minton will have to wait and see what the SBI Investigation determines.