(05/01/2008)
A 19-year-old St. Albans man has told the Department of Natural Resources he shot and killed a 16-year-old hunter Tuesday.

The DNR has determined the death was a "hunting incident" not a murder.

DNR Law Enforcement Captain Steve Stewart says Andrew Hess Hardin told investigators he thought 16-year-old Nick Caldwell was a turkey when he fired at him in the a wooded area.

Caldwell was found dead by family members, after he did not return from turkey hunting. He was still holding the bow he took into the woods.

Hunters are not required to wear blaze orange while turkey hunting.

Hardin told investigators he panicked after he realized what had happened and did not report the shooting.

Stewart says the investigation continues, but it will be up to prosecutors to determine what, if any, charges will be filed against Hardin.

Don Caldwell, the deceased boy's father, told the Charleston Daily Mail he believes his son's death was the result of an accident.

"In my opinion, it was an accident," he said. "Somebody from a distance shot at him. Probably heard him turkey calling and probably saw him move. They were probably just shooting at movement. But they probably saw what they done and ran."

Caldwell was a student at St. Albans High School. A candlelight vigil was being planned at a St. Albans church.


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