On Tuesday, a New Jersey police officer suffered a fatal gunshot wound while deer hunting. Yet, officials have claimed that no foul play is suspected in the case.
The victim is 38-year-old Jason Franco of the Hamburg police department, according to the Sussex County prosecutor’s office. First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller shared further details on the case.
Franco and a family member went deer hunting on Tuesday in Wantage, NJ. A single round from a shotgun accidentally hit the police officer during the hunt. Mueller spoke with NJ Advance Media and said the shooting has been ruled accidental and that officials do not suspect foul play.
“The investigation appears to suggest this was just a tragic accident,” Mueller explained.
According to a spokesman for the NJ State Police, Trooper Alejandro Goez said officials found Franco around 12:30 p.m. EST. Law enforcement called to the scene found him in a wooded-area near Havens Road. Subsequently, officials said that Franco was dead upon arrival. Additionally, authorities have not disclosed the other family member’s name.
In April 2018, Franco joined the Hamburg police department. In addition to working with the HPD, he previously worked as an officer with the William Paterson University’s police department, said Hamburg Police Lt. Jason Tangorra.
“Jason Franco was loved by his family and his colleagues from all surrounding agencies. He came to work every day and just did his job. This was a complete tragedy and he will be missed,” Tangorra said of Franco.
Deer-Hunting Accident Kills Man in Minnesota
Likewise, a similar tragic incident occurred two weeks ago in Minnesota. A hunter accidentally shot and killed another hunter after he mistook the man for a deer.
Police identified the victim as 28-year-old Lukas Dudley. The father of three went out hunting on Nov.25. Dudley went deer-hunting near Red Lake Reservation, an area that covers nine counties in northwestern Minnesota.
The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on the incident. They received a report from the FBI, in addition, from the Red Lake Tribal Police the same night. The two agencies reported ongoing investigations into a hunting-related incident.
The report identified the hunter who shot Dudley as 33-year-old Rain Stately. Officials said Stately “observed movement of what he thought was a deer and fired one round from his rifle.”
The two hunters were not together that day while looking for deer. However, it is also not clear whether they knew each other.