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. Shouldnthavehappened

    Even if it had been a skunk, i'm sure a few rocks thrown in that direction, and alot of noise would have scared it away. For petes sake, children like to hide and try to scare one another, and i'm sure that's what the little girl was doing.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. STLgirl

    But he had the right to own that gun...another child...another gun...another person's right taking precidence over a child's right not to be shot. Gotta love this society...

    October 23, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom the Other One

      That argument works better for cars. They re after all just a convenience and driving is a privilege. But I’m sure you’re not just another hypocrite…right?

      October 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zeke2112

      The car analogy again? Simple posts from simple minds.

      The intended use for a car is transportation from one location to another. The intended use of a gun is to destroy: life, property, whatever you choose. try not to be so obtuse and hyperbolic next time, eh?

      October 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      A society of white trash.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HELP

    I mean seriously. This ish happens????!!!!

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

      I mean, like, gosh, really? Duh, like, you know? Uh.... Duh

      October 23, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Burbank

    Little girl in black clothes: About 3-4 feet tall.
    Skunk: About 12 inches tall.
    How do you mistake the two, even in the dark at a distance?
    Scary that a blind person is allowed to own a gun!

    October 23, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Burbank

    Isn't shooting a skunk cruelty to animals in the first place? It's not like he's going to eat it, it won't even get rid of skunks, another one will just show up to fill the empty spot. Why do we allow knuckle scraping morons to own guns? Why do we allow people to breed that would never, ever be allowed to adopt a child? This is why we have morons that confuse a skunk less than a foot tall with little girls 3-4 feet tall!

    October 23, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Martin

    I'm all for the right to bear arms (I'm a gun owner myself), but come on- seriously! How on earth could he mistake a child for a skunk? (the largest breed of skunk is only 18 lbs, or slightly smaller then the cat sleeping next to my computer monitor right now)... and what kind of an idiot shoots at something he can't see clearly? (especally when he *knows* that there are a bunch of children running around?!)

    October 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • LittleBearFN

      Appears the mother of the shooter is to blame (see my earlier post)

      October 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Emart

    What type of moron goes outside with a gun and shoots at something that moves, instead of looking at it first!!

    October 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LittleBearFN

    NEW SEWICKLEY TWP. - The girl who was shot by a relative - apparently accidentally - on Saturday remains in critical condition at a Pittsburgh hospital, according a statement by New Sewickley Township's police chief.
    Chief Ron Leindecker said on Monday afternoon that the unidentified girl, 8, was shot by Thomas Grant, 24, of Jackson Center, Mercer County, who was visiting the house of his mother, Janet Grant, over the weekend. Thomas Grant has not been charged, but Leindecker said charges would be filed if they are warranted.
    In the statement, Leindecker said Janet Grant, of 376 Brewer Road, told officers that she was hosting a Halloween party Saturday when she was told there was a skunk nearby; she asked her son to shoot the skunk. Armed with a shotgun and assisted by his mother, who pointed the beam of a flashlight at a nearby hillside, Thomas Grant said he spotted what he thought was a skunk and fired.
    The shell struck the girl - Leindecker did not explain her relationship to either of the Thomases - who was wearing a black Halloween costume with a white feather on its hat. Leindecker said on Saturday the girl had been struck in the shoulder, and was alert and speaking before she was flown to UPMC Children's Hospital.
    Matt Kramer, the Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer covering Beaver County, said Monday morning that he was assisting New Sewickley police in their investigation of the shooting.
    Kramer would not discuss his role in the investigation, but he could be determining whether the man ran afoul of state game laws if he thought he was shooting at a skunk. Game commission regulations classify skunks as furbearers, and there are no seasonal restrictions - with the exception of not being allowed to hunt on Sundays - on shooting them. There are also no bag limits on skunks.
    Kramer also could be reviewing where the man was when the shooting occurred. It is a violation of state hunting regulations to discharge a firearm while within a 150-yard safety zone around an occupied residence.
    "The New Sewickley Township Police Department, along with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, are conducting a thorough investigation, gathering witness statements and collecting evidence connected to the incident," Leindecker said in the statement. "Criminal charges will be filed if so warranted, pending (outcome of) the investigation."

    October 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ross


    You're an insensitive and ignorant moron. The NRA does not advocate people discharging firearms in a reckless manner. This is typical of you liberals. When you are wrong, you just make a false, ill conceived and often incorrect, blanket statement.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • J pepper

      Kind of the like the blanket statement you just made about "you liberals." Boom! Zing!

      Walked right into that one fella.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Yeah, sorry Ross, but you're a moron. Signed, a liberal who owns a lot more guns than you do.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JorgeF

    As unfortunate this event is, you can not blame the guy. It was already dark and to his knowledge he did not thnk it was a child he was shooting at. The kid should have been watched by her parents so she would not bee hiding in the bushes during the night. For those of you that say guns kill people, i have yet to see a gun by itself without a person handling it kill someone. And for those that believe it is safer to just give up guns go ask the Australians how they felt after their government took all their guns away and hoe invasions and armed robberies increased over 300% in just 2 years. I would rather have my 45 ACP at the ready when a thug decides to come into my house to rob and harm my family, at least it will be a fair fight. I thought that his Obamacare card will help him in the hospital.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • J pepper

      You can 100% blame the guy. There's no freaking reason to shoot a skunk for no reason. If you really insist on shooting a skunk, you better be 100% sure it's a freaking skunk. Politics has nothing to do with this, don't twist it in order to spout off. Get off the soap box and quit defending idiots.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • celyia

      I know the temptation is great, but do try to refrain from spreading misinformation.

      First up, that "right to bear arms" thing? That's American, not Australian. Guns have always been restricted here to those who need them and those who got permission to possess them. The right to bear arms was -not- revoked in 1997. What you're talking about is the 1997 buyback programme which was aimed at taking weapons that had been banned off the street.

      That 300% number you likely got out of some chain letter? Inaccurate. You'd have to do some serious wizardry in order to get -that- number out of thin air. I think you're getting that from what happened in the state of Victoria the next year. What I can tell you (and what the Australian Bureau of Statistics will back me up on) was that the very next year, there were a dozen more gun-related deaths in the state of Victoria - which isn't so bad considering there were over four million people there.

      Armed crime, since 1997, has - on the whole - been on a downward trend. You don't really hear about too many shooting deaths here. Thugs wielding a knife? Oh, certainly. But you're relatively safe from guns. =P

      I understand your passion for this subject, but when you start throwing out misleading information and calling it a fact all you end up doing is losing any and all credibility you had.

      October 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. daggerstab

    IThere are plenty of idiots out there who like to shoot first and ask questions later.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J pepper

    What kind of jerk goes around shooting skunks for no particular reason anyway? Goodness' sakes

    Completely avoidable. Hope the poor girl survives and finds new relatives that won't mistake her for a skunk and shoot her.

    October 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Farmboy

    I have no problem with guns and grew up around them. My father taught me to shoot. He was extremely strict about the handling of guns, and made us clean them each time after we used them.

    The point of saying this is to say that my father would have tanned my hide if I'd shot a gun at any unknown thing in the dark that I hadn't cleary identified, and I can't even imagine what he would have done if I'd fired a weapon anywhere near a children's party. He would've told me that I was a halfwith fool.

    There isn't much sense in shooting a skunk, especially if it's close by.

    Some people must have housepets that are smarter than they are.

    October 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Don

    That must have been one of those giant mutant skunks which has dominated the news media lately. That along with the NRA and Republican Party being responsible for all of our nations ills.

    October 23, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boris

      Any excuse to fire a gun. What is with the American cultures obsession with that loud explosive noise. It can be orgasmic for many. I'll never understand.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. smacko

    He wasn't drinking, so stupid is the verdict. A party going on and he decides to shoot at something, if stupidity can be defined as a criminal act he should be easily convicted.

    October 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
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