The theft of trail cameras has been an ongoing issue in the hunting community since its inception over the last decade. You do not have to be in a social media group very long without seeing a hunter lament about his camera being stolen and his desire to confront the thief.
With the invention of the cellular camera, identifying thieves has become easier since the victim is often sent a digital picture of the person responsible. In the long run hopefully, this will deter thefts but it also leads to confrontations that can quickly get out of hand.
According to WV Metro News, a confrontation over a stolen game camera led to a physical altercation with shots being fired and a man charged with attempted murder.
A trail camera was stolen off a hunting lease in Fayette County, West Virginia. The owner of the camera and a off-duty deputy named Coty Pierson were able to identify the thief, Henry Joe Ward and track him to a camp not far from the lease.
Before the pair confronted Ward they contacted Natural Resources Police Officer Dave Hylton, who was dispatched to the location. While the game warden was on his way, the victim and the off-duty deputy confronted the thief and the situation quickly got out of hand.
The criminal complaint alleges Ward became increasingly agitated and made several threatening remarks towards Pierson and the other man such, “You’re lucky you’re still alive.”
The confrontation became physical and Pierson was forced to restrain Ward until he calmed down. After the initial confrontation Ward retreated to his truck to smoke a cigarette. he then returned to were Pierson and the other man were standing and said something to the affect of, “That badge doesn’t scare me you’re lucky you’re still breathing I don’t care if you wear it or not.”
He then drew a gun and shoved it into Pierson’s stomach. A struggle ensued and the gun discharged into the ground. Ward was disarmed by Pierson and made an attempt to rearm himself with a rifle he had in his truck but he was unable to retrieve it. A fight broke out between Pierson and Ward that lasted several minutes.About this time the game warden arrived and put an end to the fight.
Ward was arrested and is jailed in lieu of a $ one million bond. He will receive multiple charges that include, malicious assault on a police officer, attempted first-degree murder, and trespassing.
News sources say It was unclear if Pierson or the original victim were injured during the incident. However, Ward had substantial bruising and swelling to his face in his mug shot and his shirt was covered in blood.
This entire incident could have been a whole lot worse. luckily nobody was killed. I would advise hunters to be careful if you decide to confront someone about stealing a trail camera. You may have no idea who you will meet and they may not take too kindly to being called out.
The best thing to do is to wait on law enforcement to make the confrontation and avoid putting yourself in a situation where you might end up dead.