Two 17-year-old boys were arrested late Thursday in connection with the shooting death of a West Valley man who had been fishing along the Jordan River.
The two boys apparently shot the man in the head after mistaking him for a bird. "To them, they thought he was a big bird. They were some distance away," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. David Bishop.Russell M. Maggard, 19, was sitting on a log fishing near a creek that enters the Jordan River in the Bluffdale area Monday night. He was apparently hunched over with his fishing pole.
The two boys were in the area target shooting with a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle. The boys apparently realized that they had shot a person but left the area without notifying anyone.
It wasn't until late Thursday night that the youths told their parents what had happened. The parents called the sheriff's office.
"We're convinced that the information printed by the media has helped pressure them (into coming forward)," Bishop said.
Detectives had been looking for two boys seen walking along the railroad tracks in that area Monday evening. Witnesses said they were carrying rifles and had been shooting toward the river.
Investigators do not believe the shooting was intentional, but they have turned the case over to the Salt Lake County attorney's office to decide on charges. The boys were arrested and then released to the custody of their parents.
"I hope this tragic case weighs heavily on the minds of people and wakes them up to the need for safety training and extreme care when using firearms," said Capt. Bill Van Wagenen. County ordinance prohibits the discharge of firearms anywhere within the county limits except designated firing ranges.
Maggard had been married only one and a half weeks at the time of his death. His body was discovered Tuesday morning.