State Police have confirmed that the shooter in the hunting accident on Dec. 31 was Norton resident John Bergeron of the Troop C Central Massachusetts State Police.
Bergeron, 50, fired from a heavily wooded area in the vicinity of 98 Oak St at approximately 4:55 p.m. New Year's Eve. The victim, Cheryl Blair, age 66, of Norton, was walking her two retrievers on a path when she was shot in the torso. The shooting occurred a few minutes prior to the end of the season for use of a black powder weapon.
Upon immediately realizing what had happened, the trooper called the incident in himself and administered medical aid to the woman until EMS arrived. The woman was transported to Rhode Island Hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening at this time. The shooting was investigated by the Bristol County State Police Detective Unit. The trooper is not facing charges and not facing any internal investigation.
“I am not prepared to say with certainty today that the shooting occurred within the reserve where hunting is allowed. It appeared that way to investigators, but the area was not marked with signs, so I cannot say for certain that it was in the hunting reserve,” said David Procopio, spokesman of the Massachusetts State Police.
Investigators said the area of the incident was approximately one quarter mile into the wooded area off Oak Street and a safe distance from any buildings.
According to a press release by State Police, Bergeron is an experienced hunter who lives in the area. He did not see the woman and mistook the tails of the two dogs as the tail of a deer he had seen earlier in the afternoon. Investigators said the shot that hit the victim was the only one he fired all afternoon. He had all proper gun and hunting licenses.
“The investigation is ongoing, but we have determined it was accidental and based on what is known at this time the shooter faces no criminal charges,” Procopio said.
“Our hopes are for a full and speedy recovery for the victim,” Procopio said.