ALEXANDER COUNTY, N.C — A hunter using a coyote caller was shot and killed by a neighbor who mistook him for a coyote Monday in Alexander County, officials said.
Deputies said the victim, Seth Marsh, was in a wooded area along Ed Burgess Road near Highway 16, just north of Taylorsville, when he was shot with an AR-15.
Officials said Marsh was using an electronic coyote caller and set up on the ground near a tree when a neighbor heard the caller and fired two rounds at what he believed was a coyote, striking Marsh twice in the chest.
Authorities said the neighbor immediately ran over to help Marsh and called 911.
Marsh died a short time later at a hospital in Wilkes County.
Officials said Marsh was wearing camouflage when he was shot. Authorities said he was also wearing an orange hat, but a hooded sweatshirt was covering it.
Investigators seized the neighbor's weapon and returned to the location of the shooting Tuesday to canvas the area with metal detectors.
Wildlife officers said the accidental shooting is a reminder about the importance of gun safety.
"Whenever you point a weapon and pull that trigger, know where that bullet is going before you aim and shoot," Sheriff Chris Bowman said.
"We're looking at, 'Did the suspect identify the target, or did he just shoot at movement?'" Chad Starbuck, with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said.
Deputies said Marsh, a father of two young children, was a preacher at a church in the northern part of the county.
"It's sad to say that he will not see his little boy play sports or get to see his daughter walk down the aisle one day," church member Coy Pearson said.
Deputies said they are hoping to wrap up the investigation by Wednesday and meet with the district attorney to determine if any charges are warranted in the case.
Cox Media Group