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Police Say Trooper Not Getting Special Treatment [POLLS]

The hunting accident is still being investigated, but no charges have been filed at this time.

Despite some public criticism, police insist that the who shot a 66-year-old Norton woman in a on Dec. 31, the last day of hunting season, is not receiving special treatment.

Cheryl Blair, who was wearing a blue coat, was walking her two golden retrievers New Year's Eve when she got knocked to the ground by the gunshot. John Bergeron, 50, also of Norton, mistook them for a deer he saw in the area earlier.

The questions lie in the location and time the incident took place.

Massachusetts hunting laws state that firearms must not be discharged on the land of another within 500 feet of any dwelling or building in use, except as authorized by the owner or occupant thereof. Because the wooded area is so large, investigators had to obtain plot plans and speak with the town assessors to accurately determine who owned the property.  Police say that though Blair was found in the woods behind her home at 98 Oak St., the area in which the incident took place was reported as being 800 feet from any residence, and was not her property. The land is privately owned by someone who gave Bergeron permission to hunt there.

After finding out Bergeron shot the woman with his black powder rifle, he called 911 at 4:55 p.m. Law states that hunting must end a half hour after sunset, which was approximately 4:23 p.m. that night. This puts the mandatory end-time at 4:53 p.m., just two minutes before the call was place.

“Investigators determined that the incident took place several minutes prior to the call being placed,” explained Lieutenant Todd Jackson. “This was due to the time it took him to get to her and other factors. The initial 911 call went to state police because it was dialed from a cell phone. Once the state police dispatcher knows where the incident took place, it is transferred to that location; Norton in this case.”

No charges have been filed, and it is unlikely Bergeron’s hunting license was revoked.

And then there's the question of negligence. Blair was wearing a blue coat and not the orange vest that is suggested when walking in hunting areas. Bergeron mistook her two retreivers as a deer, and did not notice Blair at all.

The victim’s husband Jim Blair, a hunter himself, told WBZ-TV Monday there should be consequences.

“I can forgive an accident,” says Jim Blair. “But he said he was shooting at a tail. That was the tail of my dog, not a deer. You have to have target recognition, and he failed to do that.  And I cannot forgive that.”

“The detectives are working hard to see that the investigation is thorough and complete before closing it out,” Jackson said.

“I can say with certainty that the fact he is a trooper has no bearing on the investigation.”

Many in town have also voiced their concerns over current hunting regulations.

“The place to take up changing the rules is Town Meeting,” wrote a user named Mark Stoughton in our original report. “While I have nothing against hunters, or their rights to hunt, their rights have to end where my right to live safely in my own back yard begin.

“The town has grown considerably in the last 20 years or so. Many of our neighborhoods are now dangerously close to hunting areas. I don't know if our local hunting regulations have been updated in that time, but with more an more houses being built, it's time to revisit them. We're still rural enough that an outright ban may be overkill, but we should look at restricting hunting zones in town.”

At this time there are no proposals to change hunting bylaws in town.

Norton Police Department reminds hunters to use all safety precautions possible while hunting and abide by local hunting laws. Others in wooded areas should be aware of hunting season and wear orange clothing to stand out during that time.

DJ January 05, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Roxanne, I understand your frustration and anger, but so your aware, the report above indicates that the shooting did not occurre on the victims property, but behind her house. It was also " reported as being 800 feet from any residence" a claim I do not believe can be accurate given the logistics of the land. There is not 1600 feet between homes in this location according the the Towns GIS site. Would the reporter PLEASE identify where precisely the hunter and the victim were located?
Roxanne Houghton January 05, 2012 at 02:43 PM
It doesnt matter if the real victim was shot on her own property or in close proximity. A few feet difference does not make the shooter a victim. Unless the shooter intentionally shot this woman, he aimed at something that he couldnt see - and shot. That is the bottom line. No community should allow hunting within its boundries anymore - maybe when someone actually dies, things will change. People in my neighborhood have to listen to gun-shots all during hunting season. Some are afraid to let their children and pets out, into their own yards. Now, if one of us is shot, the shooter will be the victim?????? How can anyone even think like that? Lets just hope that this woman (the real victim) will be able to live a normal life again, but you can bet that she will be scarred for life, in many ways. This did not have to happen.
kyle January 05, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Tell me Chris, what was he shooting at? The "tail" of a deer? Really? Was he trying to shoot the tail off a deer? Was it a buck tail? Doe tail? He was negligent by not identifying his target!! They were golden retrievers btw. Much smaller then a deer. Must have been hunting Bambi for some veal. Take his guns for such poor judgement.
DJ January 05, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Roxanne, I completely agree, which is why I believe we should draft a warrant article for Town meeting to vote to change the by-laws. I was however noting the information in the article because some here believe if he was following MA gun laws, he is not at fault. I personally believe the police investigation, as it has been reported, is based on false information, skewed to show the hunter was within the parameters of the hunting laws. Even if he were, as you and others point out, negligence may still exist and IMHO, the laws are inadequate when a .50 c musket can hit a target at 200 + yards and the set back is only for 500 FEET.
Mark Stoughton January 05, 2012 at 07:29 PM
DJ, The issue of whether Officer Bergeron is a good man or if he is getting special treatment aside, I agree completely that our local hunting/firearm ordinances need to be revised at Town Meeting. I can't believe that the Commonwealth's 500 foot law was designed to shoehorn hunting grounds into an area surrounded by private homes. During hunting season, there is gunfire coming from that area almost on a daily basis. The area is clearly too small and heavily populated for guns to be used without risk to regular residents going about their daily activities.
Vince January 06, 2012 at 01:25 AM
I'm surprised there's not more discussion about the time of the shot. Fish and game have sunset at 4:22 and not the 4:23 stated. This is just one minute, but being a long time avid hunter, I can't imagine that I would still let a shot fly that late. IT WAS DARK. I honestly dint think it would take 3 min or even two to realize what just happened and dial 911. A resposible hunter would use the last couple of minutes to unload and walk out. How could this not be negligence!
Mark Stoughton January 06, 2012 at 12:14 PM
The time of the shot is almost beside the point. A woman has been shot by a hunter while walking her dog in a residential neighborhood. We should be concentrating on the larger issue of inappropriate hunting zones in our town.
Kim January 06, 2012 at 12:44 PM
so I can go in the woods and shoot anyone I feel like and its okay because its a hunting accident? Or is this only true if I'm a state trooper? A woman in blue walking a yellow dog along a path does not look anything like a deer, I spend a lot of time in the woods walking my dog. It took several minutes for him to call 911 and she was screaming in pain? That is ridiculous. For the sake of other responsible hunters, this man needs to be charged with negligence no matter how much remorse he has. I'm still wondering if he shot this woman on purpose.
Vince January 06, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I totally agree that with increased population change in hunting regs are imperitive. My comment was more on the topic which I thought was " did this cop get preferential treatment" yes he did! Look at the history of hunting accidents and you'll see that most of them involve some criminal charge. Before we worry about next season let's not forget about the poor woman in agony and her family, permanantly and horrifficly damaged by this mans gross irresponsible action. I'm sure he's a good man and is traumatized himself. He broke the law and should be charged like anyone else would have. Can you say brotherhood!
DJ January 06, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Vince, what law was "broke"?
Vince January 06, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Thank you Kim, that is why I brought up the timeline, it either took him too long to make the call or he took the blind hail Mary shot on the wrong side of the seasons end. Seems the timeline has been adjusted accordingly or perhaps the stall was due to devious thinking, perhaps a priorty call made to legal council. At least he did make the call and get plenty of documentation of his remorse, who wouldn't be remorseful? I don't see where he administered much in the way of first aid. My sincere best wishes to Cheryl Blair and family I pity your horrid start to the new year.
Vince January 06, 2012 at 01:48 PM
He took the shot after the season was closed without a identified target. Please be advised the kill zone on a deer is no bigger than a soccor ball!
DJ January 06, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I'm not trying to be argumentative, but in all fairness, you may suspect "he took the shot after the season was closed", but the police say otherwise. Obviously the hunter misidentified his target, but the police are calling that an accident.
Rafael Ortiz-Vazquez January 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I've been reading where many are concentrating where the shot took place and that she was dressed in blue. The biggest reason why hunter orange is mandatory in most states is so other hunter can easily identify each other. Too many were taking sound shots or "I saw a ear", "I saw the tail", "I saw the antlers" and not taking the time to properly identify what they are shooting at, especially when it was dark. Our surrounding town population growth is such that we are going to have to zone certain area from hunting and the residents in those zones should have a big part in voicing their concerns. This shooting was preventable especially coming from someone who uses a firearm as a tool of the trade, his job. I don't understand how the town police are classifying this as accidental. It was negligence, pure and simple and for the sake of all of us he has to be charged as such and answer to a Court of Law. Hunting close to residential area should be prohibited. Most firearm carry a lot of energy that can carry well over a mile. I pray for her family and that she has a speedy recovery.
Vince January 06, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Thank you DJ I certainly don't hold facts that I can make an argument. Nor do I personnaly want officer bergeron to suffer any more than he probably will. My suspicion started with initial coverage on the first that focused on the fact that no laws were broken even saying " the shot was well within shooting time" well it obviously wasn't. I Was apalled that they did not even update mrs. Blairs condition. I have yet to see the exact time of the call either off of the cell phone or 911 records. Wonder why? Yes the police have concluded the timeline is not an issue but I believe that if it were a less prominent citizen that pulled the trigger this time issue would be much more scutinized and not so quikly dismissed. The mis-information and the exclusion of the phone log time arouses my curiosity, that's all. I meen no disrespect to any individual. My concern is with the Blair family and fair justice.
DJ January 06, 2012 at 04:07 PM
agreed
Annemarie Holloway January 06, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I am a Mother of four who lives on Shelly Road quite close to where the incident took place. We saw the emergency vehicles fly down our road on New Years Eve. We never thought it involved a hunting accident. I find myself saddened for both the Bergeron family and the Blaire family. And although I have been a Norton resident for almost seven years and have become accustomed to seeing individuals hunting in our neighboring woods, it has been unnerving at times -- given I have small children who play on the back of our property that is in/near the woods. Our neighborhoods as well as many others surround this wooded area. Neighborhoods filled with kids and families. We love this town, simply for the fact that it seems to rally around the needs of it's residents and do the right thing. I know there has been a lot of talk on the accuracy of the "facts" in this case.. But, for me and my family, it is a symptom that times have changed and the guidelines on hunting in Norton should be revisited and revised -- to insure both the resident and hunter are kept safe.
espur January 08, 2012 at 01:32 PM
The trooper isn't get special treatment? Yeah right, The article suggests that the public should wear orange when walking in the woods during hunting season. What was Mr Bergeron wearing? Was he done up in Camo? I just heard on the news this morning that Mrs Blair had complication and infection. Just what special treatment is Mrs Blair going to get for her pain and suffering, the huge fiancial cost, the live long chronic pain and limp she will have as a result of Rambo Bergeron's stupidity.
Tootie January 08, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I believe, none of us can create a law, its funny how all of a sudden people want to change the laws of hunting - because an ACCIDENT happened. But before the shooting the laws didnt seem to bother any of you . If you all dont think it is an accident then there is something wrong, this man would not intentally shoot at an old lady and her dogs- he truely thought it was a deer - who are any of you to call out what he thought he saw, he has a job, wife and a family to take care of it was an accident. No of you know what actaully happened that night in the woods. You can have your opinion but the lady was at fault for the most part; although we have no write to be pointing fingers, as you can read, this situation happens all the time in other towns. Just a tip: if you wanna walk your dog dress appropriatly, and dont walk in a haunting zone.
Roxanne Houghton January 08, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Tootie has ended all discussion.........he/she writes that the victim was the one to blame. Case closed! He/she also warns us to all stay out of hunting zones. This person is exactly the reason that there should be no hunting in city or town limits. "Tootie" may be out there hunting right now and if he/she shoots you or one of your children it will be your fault. Watch out! A shameless post. The victim is harmed for life. Imagine what she is going through and rethink your post.
Rafael Ortiz-Vazquez January 08, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Hey Tootie, I guess that you do not hunt, but you do drive, right? Lets say you are driving and it's getting a little dark. So you say "this looks like the road . Its a little narrow". So you drive on the very narrow road, but its not a road, its a sidewalk and you just injured some pedestrian who were wearing dark cloth. Who is in fault? The pedestrian for not wearing light color cloth or the driver for negligence? Massachusetts used to have primitive arms hunting season open for only three days after shotgun season. This was changed not long ago to black powder season and extended. It used to be unheard of to hunt after Christmas in Mass. Like driving, a hunter MUST be sure of his game before shooting for a KILL. Once the shot is taken you can never call it back. It is very negligent to take a shot with out taking time to be sure of your target and back stop. This was very preventable and it was negligent. If I was a member of that family I would have gone out and got a Lawyer and sue that hunter for everything he has. You never cock, point and shoot with out taking all caution and safety of others. Hunter orange was introduced FOR hunters because of stupid HUNTERS trying make a quick kill and they succeed, but not the target they thought because they did not take the time to make sure. Did he have an "anterless permit"? If not, you have to make sure if it is buck or doe and make sure of the kill zone, not the tail!
DJ January 08, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Your a lunatic!
Nortonres January 09, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I wonder if people realize that is it legal for hunters to hunt on ANY private property WITHOUT the owners permission in Norton and Massachusetts. This, to me, is very scary. Realize that armed hunters can come onto your property and hunt, without asking you, and without your permission. The only way to legally stop this is to post signs, which is a large expense and pain. These signs can be ignored and removed by hunters also. I am all for legal hunting, but the right to tresspass is shocking to me. Other states (like maine and new york) require the hunter to have permission to hunt on private property. Here in populated massachusetts they are allowed to hunt anywhere, without asking! Time for Norton to change this and catch up to the rest of the country.
Rafael Ortiz-Vazquez January 09, 2012 at 04:37 PM
It was mentioned in the papers that he had permission from the land owner. I myself hunt in MA, but only in the bird season and in Myles Standish Forest (public land designated for wild life management). I used to hunt in the primitive arms season, which was only for three days, in October Mt. (near Lee, MA) but it got changed to black powder season (besides primitive arms, any rifle with single shot that uses black powder example: inline ignition) and extended to, I believe, two weeks. Since 1998, I no longer hunt in MA because of people like this one who do no recognize their game before the shot (very upsetting) and over population of people. Instead, I hunt North of Mattawamkeag, Maine where you can truely get lost in the woods. No one around but you the trees and wildlife. Its not about the hunt, its about being there, you and good old mother nature. If I don't ever take a shot its ok. I enjoy just being there. You come across moose, deer, bear (sometimes, they are afraid of you), fox, Fisher, squirels, owl, and many other creature.
Nortonres January 09, 2012 at 09:24 PM
"It was mentioned in the papers that he had permission from the land owner. " Yes. My point is that he didn't need permission to hunt there, he can hunt on any private property WITHOUT permission. This is what I have an issue with.
Rafael Ortiz-Vazquez January 09, 2012 at 09:44 PM
It is my understanding that in Massachusetts a hunter is required to get permission from the land owner, better it be written. The only person allowed to tresspass is a Law Enforcement Officer on duty, his badge allows it (town police, State Police, Enviromental Police). If I was a land owner, I'd probably not grant it because of liability ussue, like what happened. Will the land owner be held liable for granting permission? This is something for the civil courts. This is one major reason I hunt on wildlife management land and away from cities and towns. Better in upper state Maine.
Nortonres January 09, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Read the MGL, The land must be posted, otherwise its wide open to hunters. "Mass General Laws; Chapter 131, Section 36. A person shall not fish, hunt or trap on private land without permission of the owner or tenant thereof, after such owner or tenant has conspicuously posted thereon notices which bear the name of such owner or tenant and which state that fishing, hunting or trapping on such land, as the case may be, is prohibited. "
Rafael Ortiz-Vazquez January 09, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Thanks that's good to know. I've always respected private land. This is something that would have to be brought to the State Senate and House Representative. Everybody concerned should be writting to generate a bill where a person can not tresspass on private land without permission to fish, trap or hunt.
JBC January 10, 2012 at 12:12 AM
And don't miss this: Section 60. A person shall not use any firearm, bow and arrow or other weapon or article in a careless or negligent manner so as to cause bodily injury or death to another while engaged in hunting or target shooting. http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIX/Chapter131/Section60 Norton area residents, and others across the Commonwealth should be moved to action in the aftermath of this horrible and tragic event. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts did not learn lessons from nearby neighbor Maine, over 20 years ago. http://www.yankeemagazine.com/issues/2010-01/interact/10things/down-east-stories/karenwood/all Of course the MA HUNTING LAWS NEED REVISION! DUH! Maine hunting law revisions led to a significant statistical decline in hunting-related fatalities, in the aftermath of that traumatic event. over 20 years ago. duh
DJ January 10, 2012 at 12:28 AM
and nothing stops them from ripping down the signs. I posted 15 five years ago and none remain. Most were removed by the first year. I never caught who removed them so your guess is as good as mine.

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