A man who served the United States overseas was killed in a weekend hunting trip gone terribly wrong.
Around 7:20 p.m. Sunday, Kenneth Moore, 28, of Rochester was shot once in the head near N. 400 W. and W. 250 N., about four miles northwest of downtown Rochester.
According to a media statement released by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Moore was hunting with two adult friends and a 12-year-old boy on a private plot of rural farmland.
Around dusk, the hunting party split into two groups of two. Moore walked the 12-year-old, who was wearing hunter orange clothing, into an adjacent cornfield, leaving his two friends behind.
For reasons unknown, Moore’s friend picked-up a 12-gauge shotgun and fired at least one round, hitting Moore square in the head.
In a moment of panic, Moore was loaded into a private car in seek of immediate medical care. In coordination with 911 emergency dispatchers, an ambulance met the vehicle on a rural roadway and took Moore to Woodlawn Hospital in Rochester where doctors pronounced him dead. Memorial MedFlight was originally called to transport the 28-year-old to a major trauma center, but the chopper was quickly called-off.
Detectives from the DNR, State Police and Fulton County spent much of the evening and overnight gathering scene evidence and interviews from the shooter and two eyewitnesses.
"It’s a marshland that backs up next to a cornfield. They were on foot, hunting from the ground on kind of an elevated part of the wetlands looking over the cornfield when it happened,” Indiana DNR Cpl. Ashlee Jackson said.
By Monday morning, a canine dog was being utilized to canvass the dense field for evidence like shell castings in a case where investigators say negligence may have been involved.
"Accidents can happen while hunting, but there are steps to avoid any accidents occur. One thing would be to make sure you positively identify your game before taking a shot. Also don't shoot in an area or direction that you haven’t positively identified what you're shooting at or what's behind it,” Cpl. Jackson added.
This tragedy came at the tail end of Indiana's two-day Youth Deer Season, which concluded at sunset, moments after Moore was shot. Although the group was teaching the 12-year-old how to hunt, police say the unidentified adult shooter broke state law by being armed and could consequently face charges.
"During this season, the youth hunter is out with someone at least 18-years-old who has a hunting license. The adult however should not to be hunting; they're not to be in possessing of a gun. Also everyone in the hunting party, the adult and the youth, is to be wearing hunter orange,” Cpl. Jackson reiterated.
A lifelong Hoosier, Moore was active in his community. While attending Rochester High School, he participated on the schools swim and cross-country teams, sang in the choir and was a member of the Future Farmers of America. Leading-up to his 2003 graduation ceremony, Moore cited his favorite quote from singer/songwriter Bob Marley "It's better to die fighting for freedom than to be a prisoner all the days of your life."
To no surprise, Moore enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp. in Jan. 2005. A member of Engineer Company B based-in South Bend, Moore served an eight-month tour in the Al-Anbar province of Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
Family members say this isn't the first recent tragedy to hit their household. On Sept. 19, Moore’s mother Nancy, a retired Rochester Community School teacher of 33-years, died unexpectedly at the age of 62. Loved ones had just gathered to say goodbye at the Good Family Home on Sept. 25, now it seems they’ll have gather there again.
Indiana averages roughly 30 hunting accidents each year; the majority of which involve tree stands. While one is too many, this is only the second time a hunter has shot and killed another hunter in the state since 2007.
Indiana DNR safety tips while hunting with firearms:
*Wear hunter orange that is visible in all directions
*Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded
*Keep the muzzle of the firearm pointed in a safe direction at all times
*Keep your finger off the trigger and outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot
*Positively identify your target before pulling the trigger
*Always know what’s beyond the target and have a good backstop
Indiana Deer Hunting Schedule:
*Bow Hunting Season: Oct. 1, 2012 – Jan. 6, 2013
*Firearm Hunting Season: Nov. 17 – Dec. 2, 2012
*Muzzle-loader Hunting Season: Dec. 8 – Dec. 23, 2012