Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > December 2004


Friday, December 17, 2004


Star-Ledger Staff

A Mercer County hunter was charged yesterday by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife with weapons offenses after a pellet from his muzzle-loading rifle missed a deer on Nov. 22 and struck a contractor working on a Montgomery Township home, authorities said.

George Hoffman, 53, of Hamilton, was issued charges of careless discharge of a firearm and negligent use of a firearm by a Fish and Wildlife official, according to Montgomery Township Police Director Michael Beltranena.

Benny Queli, a contractor from Glen Gardner, reported being hit by the pellet at 3:15 p.m. Nov. 22 while working on a home on Elm Drive, Beltranena said. The pellet struck the right side of his chest but did not pierce his clothing or skin, Beltranena said.

Queli was taken to Somerset Medical Center, where he was treated and released, he said.

"It is very fortunate that Mr. Queli was not seriously injured in this matter, but nonetheless, it is important that law enforcement investigate these matters thoroughly to make sure that those who choose to ignore our laws are brought to justice," Beltranena said in a statement. "We must insist that the safety of our public and residents is ensured."

A joint investigation by the Montgomery police and the Division of Fish and Game, a part of the Department of Environmental Protection, led to Hoffman, he said.

Hoffman fired his muzzle-loading rifle at a deer in a field adjacent to Elm Drive and missed, Beltranena said.

A similar incident of stray shotgun pellets was reported earlier this month when several holes were found in a Warren Township home.

Two bullets pierced windows on the first and second floors of the home on Dec. 3 while the residents were there, but no one was injured, police said.

The homeowners did not discover the window holes and six similar holes in the siding until the next day,

when they reported it to authorities, police said. Deer tracks found around the home caused police to suspect a hunter misfired near the Broken Arrow Road house.

No one has been charged in that incident and the investigation remains open.

Matthew J. Dowling can be reached at [email protected]  or (908) 429-9925.

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