Sheriff's officer shot by turkey hunter: 'You didn't expect it was coming'

A Minnesota sheriff's commander is recovering after being shot by a hunter who apparently mistook him for a wild turkey.

In his 28 years with the Washington County, Minn., Sheriff's Office, Jerry Cusick had never been shot. So when he was struck by a shotgun blast fired by a hunter who apparently mistook him for a wild turkey, he was understandably shocked.

"I would liken it to somebody hitting you upside the head with a baseball bat, and you didn't expect it was coming," Cusick told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

"It spun me around, knocked my hat off," the 53-year-old sheriff's commander said. "I ducked down and saw blood was streaming down. I screamed, 'You shot me! You shot me!'"

Cusick recounted the incident to local media on Wednesday after his release from the hospital, where he was treated for a shotgun blast to the face.

He said he was scouting for wild turkeys on Tuesday morning on private land in St. Croix County, Wis., east of St. Paul, Minn., and was walking back to his vehicle when he was shot by another turkey hunter from about 30 yards away.

"A lot of things are going through your mind. You are thinking, are you going to live or are you going to die?" Cusick told  WCCO-TV

The shooter arrived but seemed disoriented, so Cusick decided to seek help himself rather than wait, he told the Star Tribune.

With blood streaming down his face, Cusick drove to a nearby farmhouse, where the residents called an ambulance.

Cusick told MSN News in a telephone interview Friday that he counted 58 pellet holes on his body from the 3-inch shell blast.

"About 20 are in my face and head. The rest are in my throat, neck, chest, shoulder and left arm," he said. "It's a lot of pain in a lot of areas."

A front tooth was shattered by the blast, and he will require surgery for a pellet that lodged near his right eye.

BAGGING A TURKEY

The man who shot Cusick, identified by authorities as Anthony Cardarelli, 27, of White Bear Lake, Minn., was an experienced hunter, said Dave Hausman, a warden supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in Baldwin.

"He saw movement and mistook (Cusick) for a possible turkey. With brush and things in the way he didn't have a clear view," Hausman told MSN News.

No charges have been filed, though the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

Hausman said the shooter, who had a valid hunting license, apparently violated a cardinal rule of hunting safety: Positively identify your target and what's beyond it before pulling the trigger.

"I'm very disappointed in choices some people will make and I can only hope that there aren’t more people who are so willing to take a shot before knowing just exactly what they were shooting at," Cusick told MSN News.

Cusick, whose job duties include teaching firearm safety classes, doesn't know when he will be able to return to work full time.

"At this point in my career my job is largely administrative and I can still perform those functions," he told MSN News. "However, I certainly cannot perform the job of a crimefighter at the moment. That will take some time."

He said the shooting won't deter him from going turkey-hunting again but he's apprehensive for others.

"I have a son who hunts and a wife who hunts. It makes me more uneasy at this point having them go afield knowing there may be other individuals capable of doing what this individual did to me," he said

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