Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2008

MD: Ellicott City man charged with negligent hunting

Ellicott City man charged with negligent hunting
By Mike Santa Rita
Posted 12/16/08

Charge related to shotgun slug shattering window at day-care center

Maryland Natural Resources police today charged an Ellicott City man with negligent hunting after a stray shotgun slug struck a Clarksville day-care center last Wednesday.

Richard V. Hoenes Jr., 41, of Ellicott City, was charged with negligent hunting and failure to report harvest of deer within 24 hours, according to Sgt. Ken Turner of the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Howard County police said a slug from a hunter’s shotgun fired about 277 yards away shattered a front window of Kids Time Out day-care center on Route 108 in Clarksville. No one was injured in the shooting, which Howard County police said they believe was accidental. There were six children, two workers and one parent in the facility at the time of the shooting, police said

Turner said that when Hoenes fired his gun he failed to take into account the day-care center in his line of fire, failing to obey a basic rule of hunting, which is “you identify not only your target but what is what beyond the target.”

Hoenes faces up to $1,500 on each citation if convicted, Turner said. Hoenes is scheduled to be tried on both counts Jan. 22 in Howard County District Court, Turner said.

The day after the incident, County Executive Kenneth Ulman said he wants to lengthen the distance that hunters, or anyone else, must be from occupied buildings before they can shoot.

“I realize no one was injured in this incident but that’s because luck was on our side — this time,” Ulman said in a statement.

Howard County law stipulates that a gun cannot be fired within 150 yards of a building, except by the building's owner or occupant.

County officials are researching the appropriate yardage to recommend for the legislation, according to Ulman.

At Kids Time Out the day after the incident, Felicia Minnix, the center’s director, said she went into “shock mode” when she heard a stray shotgun slug shatter the window.

Minnix, 32, said she was at the front desk at about 1:30 in the afternoon when she heard some shots fired.

“It didn’t freak me out,” she said. “We do occasionally hear them because of the hunters.”

In fact, when a parent at the center expressed concern about the gunfire, Minnix reassured her, explaining that hunters regularly hunted in the undeveloped land nearby.

But then, a front window in the center was shattered — and with it, Minnix’s calm.

“All of a sudden it was this loud, godawful sound that I had never heard before,” she said.

That’s when she immediately herded the children at the center into a children’s bathroom, where there were no windows.

“I think I went into shock mode,” Minnix said. “I think I tried to hold it together.”

The younger children were mostly calm, Minnix said. “The little ones didn’t seem freaked out at all,” she said.

However, she said one four-year-old girl was scared. “She kept asking, is the loud noise going to come out (again),” Minnix recalled.

When police arrived at the scene, they found the shattered window and a projectile on the window ledge. While searching the area behind the day-care facility, officers located two hunters who said they had shot a deer several hundred yards from the facility.

Police said they believe gunfire aimed at the deer struck the center’s window.

Minnix, meanwhile, said her property management company had received guarantees from the owner of the nearby property, which is privately owned, that hunting on the land would cease.

A day after the event, Minnix said she was still recovering from the shock. She said she hoped the incident would make people realize that hunting can be a dangerous proposition in Clarksville.

“I’m realizing it was truly a frightening situation and I just hope that this opens up some eyes,” she said.

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