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. Addam

    Why was he shooting at a skunk anyway? This is legal??? Discharging a firearm in a residential area? Any sane state or country would lock this guy up and anyone else who would even take a firearm outside without GOOD reason.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      How about the obvious that a skunk doesn't weigh anymore than 4 or 5 pounds and certainly not 50 or 60 pounds like a 9 year old. You just can't fix stupid.
      Prayers for the little girls recovery................

      October 22, 2012 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug

      I have to agree with you Brad. The size would be an immediate question – that and he never saw her in the costume AT the party? Also if she was 9 and it was 8:00 p.m., was anyone keeping an eye on her?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |
    • eva68

      I am sure the man is BESIDE himself with guilt. He obviously couldn't tell how big the object was. Shooting at dark is the mistake here. You should not fire a gun until you are certain what you are shooting, and dark is a no-non.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeres Johnny

      Absolutely. That's the question. Why even shoot at a skunk?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Allan

      @EVA68. shooting, regardless night or day is WRONG. it happened during a children's Halloween party for Pete's sake. if you were sure it was a skunk, then it's okay to shoot it regardless?

      shoot only when your life is in danger or when defending anybody who can not defend themselves.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Eva, he feels bad? That's it? Sorry but stupid of this epic level has to come with consequences.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      @ eve68 Then he definitely shouldn't take a shot at something that he can't identify. Big difference between a 9 year old and a skunk.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy73

      You've obviously never lived in the country. I just love all of you experts who are so closed minded you refuse to even consider both sides of a story. The girl was wearing black. It was dark. The only part of her he likely saw moving was the white tassel. That was skunk sized. I don't imagine he shot her on purpose. I don't know if what he did was reckless, because I wasn't there. Neither were you. And we certainly can't rely on news reporters to get it right. All we know for sure is it had a bad outcome for everyone involved.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • EMRVentures

      What a dope. Even if he was right in his identification of what he was shooting at, why would any idiot shoot a skunk? The best thing you can do if see a skunk is leave it alone and let it walk away. The smell will dissipate shortly. Shooting it just leaves an incredibly stinky carcass on your property.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • biff mcguzzle

      @ SciGuy73 I have lived in the country and seen a thousand skunks and walked by dozens of them and they have walked right past me– sometimes within 10 feet. I was cool so they were cool. There was no reason for this major league idiot to shoot at a skunk. If he was worried about the skunk's prescence with the kids around, just gather everyone into the house and say nobody goes outside for a while. The local chief of police should revoke this guys' permits.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ssmon

      @SciGuy73 You dont know it was reckless? You yourself said it was dark out so you are trying to tell us if you see something moving in the dark and you blindly shoot at it its not reckless? Id hate to be a parent of any kid walking up to your house this halloween. Think about your statement for a minute and thanks so much for giving anti gun owners more fuel against us with brilliant responses like that.

      October 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • bch

      The reason to shoot a skunk is becuase they are pests. This time of year they begin digging under houses and once they take up residence it is difficult to get rid of them. And they stink.....

      HOWEVER....two to three dozen quests (several possibly children) milling around and someone shoots at something unidentified in the dark...that is the issue here....becuase a child has been severely injured due to this man's lack of judgement (or stupidity!)....

      October 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jordin2011

    who just shoots a skunk? why? because you can? its a living animal.. that really is not a threat to you..aint gonna kill ya. afraid that it may spray? well if you leave it alone it wont. you shoot it? it's going to stink. idiot... just dumb. if that girl dies i hope the person gets "man"slaughter charges.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Piggypatrol

      If he gets manslaughter charges that means the girl died you idiot! You hope the girl dies?

      October 22, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
    • thedpr

      Skunks will make burrows in and around homes and have their offspring there. I've had to deal with this before and believe me, it's terrible. There was likely some reason he would shoot at one near his home. It's sad what happened. No he absolutely shouldn't have brought a shotgun out with children around, or should have at least had a flash light to make sure he really knew what he was shooting at. But all you people who say he shouldn't shoot a skunk regardless sound like you've never lived out in rural areas, or had to deal with wild animals on your property.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
    • thedpr

      "burrows in" was supposed to be "burrows under"

      October 22, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      @ thedpr do you get many 50 pound skunks in Pa? Seriously!

      October 22, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Zuni1

      Jordin,

      You obviously do not live in the country or near skunk territory. Skunks will spray to mark their territory. If they are close enough to the house, the smell will permeate your home, wake you from a dead sleep, and linger for days. They will spray your dog , cat, and livestock. The spray is acidic. If it gets into an animal's eyes, they have to treated by the vet or they will end up losing their sight. Skunks will kill chickens and eat their eggs. They burrow and can be very destructive, and pose d danger to larger livestock like horses and cows that might break a leg when falling through the burrows. They are considered a nuisance species, and can be killed at any time in most states.

      With that being said, no responsible hunter or farmer/rancher shoots at something that they cannot positively identify. You don't just shoot at a dark shape. That is irresponsible and reckless. This man should definetly be brought up on charges.

      October 22, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert Williamson

      Jordin does not 'hope the girl dies". The issue was "if the girl dies", and yes he should be charged with manslaughter.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • biff mcguzzle

      @ thedpr Ever heard of a trap for animals that become a nuisance? So, say he didn't want to trap the skunk . He just wanted to kill it, like you. I've got a great idea. I'm gonna shoot that pesky skunk– that'll make all the kids happy! Nothin' like killin' an animal at a kids' party to make those Hallmark memories. The shooting couldn't wait? He just had to blast away at something he was obviously wrong about? I know, you'll say–monday morning quarterbacking. But, this guy is just a mental defective anyway you look at it.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • bch

      The reason to shoot a skunk is becuase they are pests. This time of year they begin digging under houses and once they take up residence it is difficult to get rid of them. And they stink.....

      HOWEVER....two to three dozen quests (several possibly children) milling around and someone shoots at something unidentified in the dark...that is the issue here....becuase a child has been severely injured due to this man's lack of judgement (or stupidity!)....

      October 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      @Piggypatrol
      Jordin2011 clearly said IF the girl dies (emphasis mine), he hopes the guy gets manslaughter charges. Nothing in his post implied that he (jordin) HOPED the girl dies, just IF she should. The girl has been shot and is in ICU. Certainly death is a possibility that must be considered, based on the limited info given in the article.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • btguy

      trapping a live skunk is a really bad idea as is letting them get settled in around your home. lethal traps are unsafe and likely to kill something else (the neighbors cat). that said they do not run fast or hide well there was absolutely no reason to shoot it without a light.

      October 23, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rich 3

    Typical for the times...

    October 22, 2012 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Alf

    What was he doing firing off a gun at a children's party? The shooter doesn't seem to have any sense at all. Drunk is no excuse. Guns are extremely dangerous – not toys. And hunting is murder. Please stop the murder of innocent animals.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Article states he hadn't need drinking. Maybe he is just a creep.

      October 22, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Piggypatrol

      Stop the murder of children dressed like animals, I say!

      October 22, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I agree,shooting a gun at a party for kids. But skunks can be vicious and rabid. little kids want to pet them. just a bad judgement call and he will have to live with it. Something in the dark can look out of perportion also. Murdering animals. I don't hunt but it is a necessary thing if you don't want animals to die of starvation and disease.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy73

      Please stop the murdering of millions of innocent microbes inside your house. They have as much right to live there as you do. They've been around a lot longer than we have. How dare you use bleach in the bathroom, you murderer! That goes double for insects.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • SUE

      I have lived in the country most of my adult life, the skunks and I get along just fine.

      October 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ployes

    another nitwit with a gun

    October 22, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Olivia

    I hope the little girl recovers. This was an idiotic move. Seems to me he was just itching to shoot something. So a nine y/o is the same size as a skunk? He did not think at all before pulling the trigger.

    October 22, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
    • snowdogg

      your comments are spot on

      October 22, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • AmyinCambridge

      I couldn't agree more Olivia. This gets to the heart of the issue, that is: gun fanatics are just itching to shoot at something or someone! Enough with the guns! What's this guys excuse? He wasn't even drunk! (Not that that is an excuse). He discharged a shotgun at a children's party, with 30 people milling about. That's the definition of lunacy.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. James

    They are used to seeing skunks the size of a 9 year old girl? Them is some might big skunks in Pennsylvania! This guy is just an idiot to shoot a skunk in the first place, I can hardly bear the smell when I drive past a road kill, imagine what it would smell like if you shoot it!!??

    October 22, 2012 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. darmonx

    taking out a gun during a party is a big nono unless lives are endangered because this is exactly what will happen. i bet a hundred bucks the shooter is the homeowner or his kid wanting to show off his gun while under the influence. what could a skunk possibly do to harm you or your guest. the parents of this girl have only one course of action towards this caeless and malicious act.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
  9. Snafoo

    I thought one of the first things you learn in gun safety is that you never shoot at something you can't absolutely positively identify by sight. Gun rights folks love to go on about how responsible "legitimate" gun owners are, then shoot themselves in the foot by incidents like this.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jason

    Lots of people complaining that a kid is much bigger than a skunk. While true, have none of you ever seen a piece of something when it's dark out? The kid was hiding on the edge of a hill and it was dark. He probably saw the top of her hat or a part of an arm or something. I don't think size is an issue here. Why he shot at something in the distance without checking to see what it was, on the other hand, is a pretty serious issue.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jfb

    Get it together, America.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. JAB62

    NRA member? Dick Cheney relative?

    October 22, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • AmyinCambridge

      Both. No doubt.

      October 22, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. JD

    Someone close to this man needs to walk into his house an take away every gun he owns. Neutering should also be strongly considered as protection for the gene pool.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  14. Antonio

    And yet Republicans remain mystified as to why anyone wants to talk about guns.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. WASP

    what can be said. dumb hick doesn't bother to identify his target before firing and shoots a child instead. the idiot could have used a BB rifle or just thrown a stick.................or better idea wait until he could see it and then just warn everyone about "the skunk"
    anyhow skunks are harmless minus the stink they leave behind.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
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