Report: DA to send case of WNY woman killed by hunter to Grand Jury

TOWN OF SHERMAN, N.Y. (WIVB-TV) - State and local authorities are investigating a fatal accidental shooting in the Town of Sherman in Western New York.

Chautauqua County Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters responded to a report of an accidental shooting in the area of 2998 Armenian Road in the Town of Sherman Wednesday evening around 5:30.

Deputies say 43-year-old Rosemary Billquist of Sherman was shot once by a male hunter while walking her dogs.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace says the hunter, who has not been charged, mistook Billquist for a deer and shot her once with a pistol.

The hunter rushed over to Billquist when he heard a scream, and stayed with her until paramedics arrived.

Billquist was taken to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania where she was pronounced dead.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police is also investigating, due to the fact that the accident is hunting-related.

“They do have the authority to lay charges, but they brought us in relatively early on this,” says Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson.

Swanson says the hunter is unlikely to face local charges related to Billquist’s death.

It’s unclear if she was wearing reflective gear at the time of the shooting; the sun had set by that time.

In New York state, hunting hours are sunrise to sunset; because the sun had gone down by the time of the shooting, the hunter violated hunting rules.

District Attorney Patrick Swanson tells News 4 given how small the Town of Sherman is, less than 2,000 people, if local charges were to be brought, there could be conflicts. Swanson knew Billquist and also knows the shooter, he says the town judge likely does as well.

“There are some procedural issues that would rear up if we charged locally. In a case like this, you want to make sure your investigation is complete anyways before you move forward,” Swanson says.

Billquist was shot with a hunting pistol.

“It was a Thompson Contender which fires rifle rounds,” Swanson explains.

Swanson says if the hunter is charged at all, it would likely be the result of a Grand Jury indictment. The man could face Manslaughter or Criminally Negligent Homicide if the case moves forward.

This post initially appeared on our sister station, WIVB-TV. 

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