ROCHESTER, Pa. — Residents of a quiet country neighborhood where a 9-year-old girl was shot by a relative who apparently mistook her Halloween costume for a skunk say the shooter should have known better than to be firing a gun at night so close to people's homes.
"Nobody can really understand it," said Dan Reese, who lives next door to the house where the shooter fired.
Police say the girl was outside Saturday night and was wearing a black costume and a black hat with a white tassel. Chief Ronald Leindecker told the Beaver County Times that a male relative mistook her for a skunk and fired a shotgun, hitting her in the shoulder, arm, back and neck.
Reese said neither the shooter, a cousin in his 20s, nor the family had ever caused problems in the neighborhood, a rural area 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh where firearms and hunting are common. But Reese said the man shouldn't have been shooting at that time, around 8:30 p.m., or so near to other houses.
"He knows better," Reese said.
The house where the shooter fired sits of the side of a small hill, and at least two other houses appear to be within 100 yards. That could be important because it is a violation of state hunting regulations to shoot a firearm within a 150-yard safety zone around an occupied residence.
State officials also say that while it is legal to hunt skunks and to hunt them at night, that requires what is known as a furtaker license. It's unknown if the shooter had one.
State wildlife officials are among those investigating the shooting, and a state police car was at the house Monday afternoon. No one answered the door of the house later in the day.
Investigators haven't released the identity of the girl, who was flown to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. A spokeswoman there declined to comment on her condition.
Reese said the girl may have been lucky because local nurses apparently were with her when she was shot.
The shooter hadn't been charged as of Monday afternoon. The Beaver County district attorney's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Information from: Beaver County Times, http://www.timesonline.com/