Police search for person who killed Clay County man, wounded another in hunting accident

bestep@herald-leader.comApril 18, 2014 

Police searched without success Friday for the person who fatally shot one Clay County man and wounded another in a hunting accident.

Brian Griffin, 28, died after being hit by shotgun pellets while turkey hunting in a wooded area in the Fogertown community early Thursday, Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson said.

Jason Roberts, 21, was hunting with Griffin and was hit by pellets as well, Johnson said.

His injuries were not thought to be life-threatening, but he could lose an eye, Johnson said.

Roberts was flown to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition late Thursday, Johnson said.

State police were notified of the shooting at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

Griffin, Roberts and a third man, Chad Bullock, 21, had set up a turkey decoy in a field and had sounded a turkey call, then they heard what they thought was a turkey responding from atop a nearby ridge.

The three walked toward the sound, with Griffin and Roberts in front and Bullock, who was 10 yards or so behind, continuing to sound the turkey call, Johnson said.

Another person on the ridge, who apparently thought a turkey was approaching, fired at the three from 45 to 50 yards away, Johnson said.

Bullock may have heard the person who fired the shot run away. He didn't see anyone, but he told police he heard a sound like a deer running through the woods, Johnson said.

Several pellets hit Griffin in the right side. He was conscious when emergency responders arrived, but his condition worsened on the flight toward Lexington, Johnson said.

The air ambulance diverted to the closest hospital, Saint Joseph-London, but Griffin was pronounced dead there.

Police searched the area of the shooting with metal detectors and returned Friday to go door to door in hopes that residents might have seen something, but they hadn't figured out who fired the fatal shot, Johnson said.

Johnson said police do not think whoever shot the two men intended to hurt them.

"We believe it is an accident," he said Friday. "There's no doubt the shooter thought he was shooting a turkey."

Still, police want to talk to the person to figure out what happened.

Rumors swirled through the county that Griffin, Roberts and Bullock had stumbled upon a methamphetamine lab, but that's not true, Johnson said.

Johnson, an experienced hunter, said turkey hunting can be dangerous.

"Never shoot at a sound or movement. Be 100 percent sure of your target," the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources says on the section of its website about safe turkey hunting. "Assume that every sound you hear is made by another hunter."

Griffin, a corrections officer at the federal prison in Manchester, was married and had two children, the youngest just six weeks old, Johnson said.

"If you had a son, that's who you'd want your son to be," said Johnson, who knew Griffin. State police asked that anyone with information about the shooting call (606) 878-6622. Detective Jeff Senters is in charge of the investigation.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service