- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A hunter shot and killed his friend after mistaking him for a deer while on a hunting trip in upstate New York, police said.

Prosecutors were considering whether to charge the shooter, who has not been identified, CBS New York reported.

Charles Bruce, a veteran volunteer firefighter for the Malverne, N.Y., fire department, was heading out of the woods at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday when his friend in a tree stand about 60 yards away shot him in the chest, NBC New York reported.

“It’s a difficult thing to kill your best friend,” said John Muehl, Otsego County district attorney. “But there is no excuse for shooting someone. I’ve been hunting all my life, and never once have I seen a man that looked like a deer.”

He added that Mr. Bruce was not wearing blaze orange, though it is not required of hunters by law.

State police ruled the shooting an accident, but Mr. Muehl said he may convene a grand jury to consider homicide charges in the case, CBS reported.

“I know he is heartbroken,” Mr. Muehl said. “But he violated the first rule of hunting. You don’t aim your gun at something unless you have positively identified it as a target.”

Firefighters gathered at the Malverne fire house to mourn the death of their colleague.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy,” said department spokesman Dave Gildea, NBC reported.

“The Malverne Fire Department is very saddened over the loss of our friend and brother Firefighter Charlie Bruce,” the fire department said in a statement. “Charlie was a true friend, great firefighter and all around wonderful person. Charlie loved spending time with his friends and family and serving his community as a fireman. He lived an extremely active life and shared so much of himself with the members of the Malverne Fire Department and with all of his friends from several walks of life. We will miss him terribly.”