One of two men using a high-powered rifle with night vision to hunt coyotes fatally shot a federal officer Friday, apparently mistaking him for game, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources reported.
The USDA Forest Service officer was killed at the Ocmulgee Bluff Equestrian Recreation Area on the Oconee Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Jasper County, authorities told The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer newspaper.
Officer Christopher Arby Upton, 37, of Monroe, Ga., was on patrol there about 11 p.m. The hunters dialed 911 to report the incident. State authorities identified the shooter as Norman Clinton Hale, 40, McDonough, Ga., and his observer as Clifford Allen McGouirk, 41, of Jackson, Ga., the newspaper reported.
Upton had been with the forest service four years, after serving as a game warden for the U.S. Marine Corps at Beaufort, S.C. He also had worked as a conservation officer, game warden and pilot with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. He leaves behind wife Jessica and 4-year-old daughter Annabelle,