October 22nd, 2012
03:27 AM ET

Relative shoots costumed girl after mistaking her for a skunk

A little girl was fighting for her life early Monday after she was shot outside a Halloween party by a relative who mistook her costume for a skunk.

Police in western Pennsylvania's New Sewickley Township said the 9-year-old girl was dressed in black with a black hat for the Saturday evening party.

As the two to three dozen guests milled about, the girl went to hide on the edge of a hill.

It was past 8 p.m. and the sun had long set. A relative spotted the dark figure in the distance, mistook it for a skunk and fired his shotgun, said Officer Greg Carney with the township police.

The girl was hit in the neck, back and arm - and flown to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, about 30 miles away. There, she remained in the intensive care unit, Carney said.

Police will determine later Monday whether they will charge the shooter, whom they did not name. Nor did they say how he was related to the girl.

They did add, however, that the man had not been drinking.

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Filed under: Halloween • Pennsylvania • U.S.
soundoff (1,550 Responses)
  1. Frenetik

    Americans....go figure.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. nonag

    Yea, but just think if she had really been a skunk what a smell there would have been.....

    October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. 2ndAmendmentGoneNuts

    Yet another "win" for the NRA and 2nd amendment idiots whose interpretation of an armed "militia" leads to shooting a little girl. Can we take the guns away from the idiots please??

    October 22, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • CHEV

      NO they cannot take the guns away I would rather put my guns 100ft underground in the woods than hand them over to some hippie who thinks guns are bad when it's really the person who use them. Get over yourself and open your eyes. can't handle a gun then here have this kitchen knife let's see how long you last against a homicidal killer with a hand gun.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      We can debate the definition of 2nd amendment until the cows come home, but your post forces me to ask if we can both say the same thing about those darn drivers who kill 10s of 1000s every year on the roads. I'm not against the idea of "Proof of Training" in firearms ownership. One must take a driver's test to get a license, I don't necessarily see anything wrong with asking the same of those who own firearms. But the notion you suggest, that all gun owners are just itching to kill and maim and have the NRA at their back just doesn't match up to reality.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Idiot Speaks

      umm...it said to take the guns away from idiots.
      Chev, are you admitting you're an idiot?

      October 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shepherd

      Lets prevent idiots from breeding and making more idiots. That way, in a couple generations, there won't be any idiots carrying guns.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Lincoln

      Yeah, why don't we take baseball bats away from people too since many people have been killed with them, or plastic bags, or any number of other things that can kill people. This incident was an "accident" for lack of a better word for stupidity, but at least it was done without malice or intent to harm a human being. Oh yeah, we better outlaw automobiles too, why, do you know how many idiots kills people accidently on the highways every year. Know what, when some big dude twice your size assaults you in your home you're gonna wish you had that fire arm you're soooooo afraid of so you can protect your family......or aren't they worth at least that much. Get over your irrational fear of guns. Taking them away will only make them that much more attractive to criminals.

      October 23, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. Paul

    Grievously wounding the girl is one thing; but before we even get to that, he should be rotting in jail for attempted murder of an animal that has more right to exist than he has.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Liliana

      So true

      October 22, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • John Doe

      Paul...I kill animals all the time...just to see them twitch and jerk on the ground. Fun stuff.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      A skunk doesn't go around killing at random, as apparently this guy does. I'll stand by the skunk having more right to exist.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • TAK

      Let's put aside the tragedy of shooting of the girl for a moment. Let's put aside the intelligence of shooting at a shadow after dark for a moment. Let's put aside the morality of shooting a nuisance animal for a moment. How dumb do you have to be to want to shoot a skunk? What do you do with it afterwards? You have a dead stinking heap on your property. You have a choice, clean up the mess or let it stink for weeks. Not sure which is worse. Way to think this through, Einstein!

      October 22, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • rdb

      Yup. Unfortunately, there is no law against being dumb.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • ThatCollegeKid

      You must be from the city, like myself. Before coming to school in Iowa I would have never though people would find it fun driving around in a car and shooting animals in the middle of the night for entertainment. While I can see how that might be entertaining for some, the risk of missing and possibly injuring a innocent bystander far out ways any thrill for me. To me it seems people have forgotten to think about the choice they are making every time they pull the trigger. I personally own a gun and have never shot a living thing, its was purchased strictly for protection.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Shepherd

      By that logic, all those bugs you killed with the front of your car today had more right to live than you.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. joe K

    Wow. What a moron. This guy is most certaintly part of the 47%!

    October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • IvyLeagueMamaLlama

      There is no 47%. I gather you didn't hear your candidate confessing that he was "completely wrong."

      October 22, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      He has binders full of completely wrong.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Justin

    If someone in a car thought they saw a skunk in the dark and decided to run over it, isntead hitting a costumed girl. Would we ban cars? I say we ban idiots. Charge this fool and keep him away from the public.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ryan

    More right to exist? More like equal right to exist...

    October 22, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pallidus

    A tragic lack of sound judgement.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ryan

    I agree!!! An IQ test to drive, breed, vote, and own fire arms!

    October 22, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • TexasDan

      ...but that would lead to the extinction of Republicans

      October 22, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • some guy

      You might be the first to fail. what then ?

      October 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Morton

      Then plenty of people wouldn't be able to drive, breed, vote or own fire arms!!

      That sounds like a pretty good place to live!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Best post I've seen all day. Though the democrats will certainly claim the IQ tests are biased because it will eliminate half of their voting base.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ctbeckyw

      Yes. Oh yes! Oh yes!

      October 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • catsnake


      October 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Republican Canidate

      but that would wipe out my base from voting!!

      October 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • m bechler

      It's called eugenics. The Nazis tried it.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe User

      That would be called racist because minorities don't have access to a quality education.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You can't require an IQ test to vote. Then we'd never have another republican president.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You can't require an IQ test to vote. Then we'd never have another republican president!

      October 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. Lincoln

      Especially to vote lest we end up with Romney in the White House.

      October 23, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • tacc2

      Now that I can get behind.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • dan macgoo

      That would make it so celtic people and black people could not own guns though.

      October 23, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      But then you won't be able to drive. What will you do? Farm in your backyard?

      October 23, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tammy

      I agree with the breeding part. Mass sterilization for high school drop outs.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Housecat

      Ryan: absolutely!!

      October 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Honest Truth

      ...and to run for office.

      October 24, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. TAK

    Dumb f-ing redneck. As simple as that. I am a gun owner and I vehemently oppose the NRA and I believe in tighter gun control. Why? The best argument for gun control is a 5 minute conversation with the average gun owner. I see these clowns at gun clubs, I see them while out hunting and they terrify me. Call me an elitist if you want but I think people need to prove that they have the mental capacity to wield the kind of power a modern firearm gives you. I'm tired of the second ammendment arguments that modern weapons are everyone's right. The founders couldn't have imagined modern firearms. The second ammendment was written with single shot muzzleloading flintlocks in mind.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Cheese Wonton

      My parents were both WWII US Army veterans and after the horrors of WWII their rule was no guns in their house, period, no exceptions. I was thinking of becoming a cop and both my parents told me never to come into their home with a gun. The rule was hard and fast.
      I have owned guns over the years and own one now, but the gun lobby is not the least big rational. There is no sense of restraint. All you hear are veiled, and sometimes not so veiled, threats of violence against the government and talk of holing up somewhere with food and firearms for when it, whatever it is, starts.
      Btw, do you really want to trust some untrained rube with a gun to do anything worthwhile with it? I mean, if four cops in a Seattle suburb, all fully armed and very well trained, could be shot dead in a coffee shop then what are the chances of the untrained civilian with a gun to effect their defense in a public place? At home you have a slight advantage if you hear a prowler and investigate. You know your home. But out in public, the perp will always have the advantage unless you walk around locked and loaded pointing the gun at everyone all day every day. There has to be some sense in the gun debate, and the NRA has no sense at all.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Fred

    Sad that a day doesn't go by in America without someone getting shot.

    Sad, but not surprising.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Aaron

    Not saying this guy was a genius, but I'm guessing we are talking about a very rural area, as one poster stated likely a farm, and skunks are carnivores that will attack domestic animals, possibly carry rabies, etc.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Micael

      And stink if you blast them with a shotgun.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • bczu

      Skunks are omnivores and the meat they eat is mostly mice and bugs.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Katie Webb

      Not in defense of the shooter, but skunks will also kill chickens and other small livestock.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • allen

      Kinder wonder if he do clean his home, he won't have a pest problem like that.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • rmr797

      A skunk isn't going to bust into a party with 3 dozen people around. And any idiot who fires a gun with that many people and children around is a waste of space. I feel so bad for that child, being involved with obvious trash.

      October 22, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • No Surprise

      Agreed. What an idiot.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austen

      Omnivores not carnivores.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not a Scholar

      He pulled a gun and fired at something he did not identify clearly, WHILE THERE WERE CHILDREN RUNNING AROUND!!

      October 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |

      Even if Skunks were man eaters, you don't shoot unless you positively identify your target.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Aaron....not saying this guy is a genius? Have you ever seen a skunk? A newborn baby is larger than a skunk, let alone a 9 year-old girl! There's no way this guy should even be thinking that it's a skunk. If he's too stupid to not make sure of what his target is, he's too stupid to own a gun.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • geewaorker

      so skunks in rural area grown to avg size of 60 pounds ?

      October 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheese Wonton

      I'm waving the BS flag. Skunks are opportunistic eaters, but the largest animal they will eat are small rodents. Other than spraying, they are defenseless against larger animals. Being as how they are the size of a house cat, I don't think you can back your claim that domestic animals are threatened.

      Face it, the reason the guy shot was he was a yahoo who doesn't like skunks. They are no threat to anything on a farm, and they keep the bugs down because that is mostly what they eat.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • roberto

      Rabies exists all over the world. Idk why some gun nut thought this was the appropriate place to say "rabies" is justification for shooting at anything that moves.

      October 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack 3

      Skunks don't threaten anyone inless threatened themselves. If you take the stink bag out of a young one they make very good and lovable pets. They're very much like cats

      October 22, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Skunks are not carnivores, they are omnivores and they don't attack farm animals. Skunks aren't bigger than an average house cat.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      Yes, those skunks are dangerous to humanity. Don't like the looks of it, then kill it. Thats what I always say.

      Or has anyone ever thought of the importance of ecological complexity and a little give and take here and there. Next time the guy will realize that he should wait until he actually confirms that a shadow is a RABID skunk.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Packman 1001

      They have a newfangled invention called a flashlight to help identify objects in the dark. If that fails, call out to what your shooting at and if it answers – don't shoot it!

      October 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Skunks eat bugs. Never heard of one attacking a dog or cat unless it was rabid, and the possibility of rabies is not a good enough reason to shoot at anything when it's pitch dark.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guester

      I grew up on a farm and never heard of a skunk attacking any livestock, or anything else for that matter.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • GAW

      Yup There's always an excuse.

      October 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • happen

      It doesn't matter where it is or what it is, you're supposed to know what your target is before you start firing off from across a damn field. Even an idiot like this wouldn't be able to confuse a 9 year old girl with a skunk unless he had no idea what he was aiming at. He saw movement and started shooting, there is no rationalization like you are trying to make.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • luckyponytoo

      I've never seen or heard of a skunk "attacking" any domestic animal, much less a mob of people at a party. We had one living under our front porch when I was a kid, and it never bothered us or our cats, other than the faint odor you'd catch after it had spent the night. They don't even spray unless they are provoked. Clearly this "skunk" wasn't even close enough that he could tell it apart from a child, so I do not believe for one second that he thought it was a threat.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian P

      How big do skunks get in a rural area? Child sized???

      And why would you decide to kill one while little kids are running around having a costume party? What kept this guy from pulling the trigger when this huge mutant skunk was in the house drinking punch?

      October 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • bch

      YET...two three dozen guests (several possibly children) milling around and someone shoots at something unidentified in the dark.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      What a load of crap. I have been living in rural areas for over twenty years. have interacted with skunks many times. they are NOT agressive nor are they carnivores as you state! Nore are they any where near the sise of a nine YO girl!

      October 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • shrinktofit

      While all that may be true, common sense still seems to be in short supply here – you don't go blasting away at ANY target without ascertaining what the target is.

      October 22, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • HZ

      Doesn't matter. One of the #1 rules of safe gun handling is that you do not shoot before positively identifying your target. This guy wasn't sure what he saw. It could just as easily have been a dog or half drunk person. The shooter is not safe in how he handles his weapon... sort of like a car driver who thinks it's okay to drive on the wrong side of the road.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earl

      Skunks are not carnivorous, there are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both plant and animals. But remember, you're talking about skunks not lions – skunks won't go after something bigger than themselves – they will eat mice and voles – not farm cats and dogs.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blackflag

      If you were this poor girls father I am sure that would make you feel OK about the whole thing.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • uckermanf

      That really doesn't matter. The article clearly said there were two or three DOZEN people MILLING AROUND. How anyone could think it would be appropriate in a situation like that to pull out a gun and start firing at things IN THE DARK is beyond me. He really should have charges pressed against him.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • MC

      The only "domestic animal" a skunk is remotely capable of harming might be a baby chick. They mostly eat bugs.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tia

      If they have skunks large enough to be confused with a 9 year old girl, they have bigger problems than rabies...

      October 22, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • AGrey

      Skunks would much rather spray than attack. And the fact of the matter is he fired a shot when he very obviously was not able to see well enough to know without a doubt what he was shooting at.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
    • andrea

      I live in a very rural area. I have never needed to shoot a skunk, especially one the size of a 9 year old. Sinply do not leave food around for them and stay away. It is a somewhat of a myth that they carry rabies. They actually have a resistance from rabies and they do NOT attack anyone.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • ag

      Oh, please. People in rural areas – like me – need to know better than to shoot at every little creature that walks into our back yards. If I didn't, I'd have lead poisoning in my well.

      "OH NO! Deer! (blam blam blam) A FOX!! (blam blam) Holy cow, it's a chipmunk AND a pheasant! (blammity blam blam blam!)!"

      I can think of no reason whatsoever to shoot a skunk, unless it's clearly showing signs of rabies. Even then, I'd probably call the DEC anyway and ask them to deal with it – keeping my dogs inside, of course. (Cats always need to be kept inside around here – we do have foxes.) Skunks are beautiful animals. Enjoy watching them, and if they're hanging around too much and causing a nuisance, just go out and scare them off with some rocks or a loud noise of some kind.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Really? Attacks domestic animals? You've got to be kidding me. In what the rest of us call "reality", their diet consists of insects, frogs, grubs and small rodents. (you *do* realize that at their biggest, they are only about the size of a large housecat, right?)

      October 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • ag

      As one who actually lives in a very rural area, I can tell you that most of us actually appreciate wildlife and don't see it as a reason to grab the 12-gauge. I have deer, bears (occasionally), fox, pheasant, turkeys, snakes and loads of other creatures visiting my yard. I've never felt the need to bring out the gun, except for one time when I was just trying to scare a bear away. I would certainly see no reason to shoot a skunk.

      October 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob's your uncle

      A rural place where 9 year olds in costume look like skunks in the dark. Shoot first, ask questions later. Don't worry what you're shooting at.

      October 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      umm have you ever seen a skunk the size of a 9 year old child? He must have been on something...poor girl

      October 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bridget

      Aaron, skunks don't attack other animals. The striped skunk is omnivorous, it eats both meat and plants. Its diet includes insects, small mammals, fish, crustaceans, fruits, nuts, leaves, grasses and carrion (dead animals). What a skunk eats often depends on what it can find and the time of year. Next time you write about an animal, take the 30 seconds to do the research.

      Stop making excuses for someone's stupidity. The man was impulsive and made a huge mistake.

      October 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • wakeup

      To Aaron, Of course because 9 year old children so resemble skunks! You are actually defending this guy!?!?! How about seeing your target before you shoot!!! I also live in a rural area and would NEVER shoot at anything that happens to move! I hope you don't own a gun!!!

      October 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh Yeah?

      I agree, a rural area, rabies and all. But you don't blast a skunk w/ a shotgun. Can you imagine the stink all around. The shotgun blast would destroy the skunk's smelly glands and plaster it all over the area. Drive past a dead skunk by the road, those few seconds alone will make for a bad skunk stink in your car.
      Imagine an entire area with fresh stinky skunk smell.
      Any comment about proportions? A skunk size of a cat, a 9 yr old girl. Come on.

      October 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. IvyLeagueMamaLlama

    Pennsylvania must have some seriously gigantic skunks. Seriously, though, how many people's young relatives have to die before they begin to realize that we have to rein in all the cowboys with guns?

    October 22, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
    • tacc2

      As a resident of PA, I think we do a pretty good job if you take into consideration just how many firearms we have vs. how many accidents.

      October 23, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. PHinMiami

    The act of shooting a child that 'looked' like a skunk is wrong on so many levels.

    The animal that did this needs to be kept from civilized society. Call it a type of 'Protective Custody'.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. LH

    Poor girl and poor skunk if any goes by his house. They are so harmless and rather like cats they typically avoid people shame on the idiot who felt it necessary to shoot one.

    October 22, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
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