Local News

Lee County Teen's Death Raises Questions About Hunter Safety

Posted November 13, 2003

— There were lots of questions Thursday for the friends of a teenager found shot to death in the woods while deer hunting.

After searching for 24 hours, crews found 14-year old Daniel Sheets' body Wednesday in a wooded area in Harnett County. He had been shot in the head.

Investigators said they want to make it clear that Sheets' family and friends are not considered suspects, though they are interviewing them for information. Investigators also pointed out that some of the stories about that day have been conflicting, and they have considered using a lie detector to help in the investigation.

According to the investigators, Sheets went into the woods Tuesday without his hunter's orange. He was wearing camouflage instead.

The teens also were under the age to be deer hunting without adult supervision. Plus, they were using 12-gauge shotguns, which is illegal for hunting deer until Saturday in these parts.

Sheets' death clearly has raised issues of hunter safety.

At Pete Peterson's shooting range and gun shop, the only deer are paper targets -- and the aim is gun safety.

"You shouldn't be walking around with firearms without proper training," Peterson said.

Peterson said that when he heard about Sheets' death, he immediately went through the litany of hunting accidents just waiting to happen.

"Not having the weapon's safety on," he said. "Leaning the weapon up against a pickup truck, or a tree, or a fence. Crawling over the fence, the weapon slides down and discharges."

Peterson said no matter what happened to Sheets, teenage boys should not be deer hunting without adult supervision.

"You don't walk around with a weapon illegally," he said. "You don't walk around in camouflage. Some other hunter may think you're a deer if you're wearing camouflage.

"This is the wrong time of year to be out in the woods wearing a camouflage uniform. You should always identify the locations of the other hunters. You don't want to get a cross-fire scenario going."

Although he is a gun expert, Peterson said he gave up hunting because you never know what the other guy will do.

"I gave up hunting because I was shot at three times in one day," he said.

Investigators said they are waiting on autopsy results from the medical examiner in Chapel Hill to help determine how Sheets was killed. So far, they have not determined what kind of gun was used, or from what range Sheets was shot.

All of the three teens who went hunting with Sheets said they split up and were not with him when he was shot.


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