Former Rowan County wildlife officer shoots, kills hunter
Staff and wire reports
NORTH WILKESBORO ó State wildlife officials say a veteran officer who used to be assigned to Rowan County shot and killed a hunter in self-defense Saturday morning after a confrontation.
N.C. Wildlife Commission Capt. Rusty Hunter said Wildlife Officer Mark Minton was patrolling during the first day of turkey hunting season when the confrontation happened about 7:30 a.m.
The commission said the shooting happened on private property in the Cane Creek area of Wilkes County.
The hunter who was killed, Clyde Coffey, was a 77-year-old from Lenoir. Reports indicate he died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Hunter told television reporters there was no evidence suggesting Minton confused the hunter with an animal. Instead, it appeared the officer was protecting himself, Hunter said.
“An armed confrontation with a hunter resulted in Officer Minton firing a shot, apparently in self-defense, which led to the death of the alleged assailant,” the Wildlife Resources Commission said in a statement.
Minton is on administrative leave while the State Bureau of Investigation reviews the incident.
Minton used to live on Sides Road in eastern Rowan County. He is a native of Hays and a 1988 graduate of North Wilkes High School. He attended N.C. State University and Wilkes County Community College, receiving a degree in fisheries and wildlife science.
He was first assigned to Rowan County in 1997. It was his first assignment as a wildlife officer.
Coffey was shot near a home on Crane Creek that his family owns.
Minton was investigating a report of an illegally baited field on the first day of turkey season. Wildlife officers around Wilkes County were investigating reports of several illegally baited fields.
The Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department responded to the scene. Wildlife officers also arrived and requested that the SBI investigate.
SBI spokeswoman Jennifer Canada would not release any details about the shooting. The SBI will pass the results of the investigation on to the Wilkes district attorney’s office.