Dad Who Killed Son in Turkey Hunt Charged

Boy's death is one of at least three wild-turkey hunting fatalities this spring.

ByABC News
May 6, 2008, 11:53 AM

May 7, 2008— -- When Minnesota authorities arrived at the scene, they found Anthony Klaseus covered in blood and extremely distraught.

"I just shot my boy," Klaseus said, according to police. "How could I shoot and kill my son? I told him to stay put while I tried to get closer to the turkeys."

On Monday, two weeks later, Sibley County prosecutors charged Klaseus, 39, with second-degree manslaughter in the April 19 homicide of his 8-year-old son.

Adding one more layer of cruelty, Klaseus and his wife had named their only son Hunter.

The boy's death is one of at least three fatalities already reported in this spring's turkey hunting season -- it's a number that often exceeds the total annual U.S. turkey-hunting related fatalities.

In West Virginia, authorities have charged a 19-year-old with misdemeanor negligence after he fatally shot a 16-year-old he mistook for a turkey during a hunt last week. The hunter could face additional charges.

On Sunday morning, a Kentucky father mistook his 14-year-old son for a game bird in what police for now have called a tragic accident.

In none of the three cases has it been suggested that the shooter intentionally killed the victim. In all of them, however, the hunters broke from basic safety protocol that could have prevented the accidents -- including the most basic rule of all.

"The utmost, unbreakable law of turkey hunting is that you always positively identify the target as the game animal you're trying to shoot," Tom Hughes, a biologist and safety instructor for the National Wild Turkey Foundation, told ABC News. "That's apparently where these hunters went wrong."

In Klaseus' case, his error could ultimately land him behind bars. In addition to the manslaughter charge, Klaseus faces charges including reckless discharge of a firearm, trespassing and turkey hunting without a license.

A statement of probable cause lays out the case against him. Authorities responded to a call about a hunting accident and found Hunter Klaseus dressed in camouflage and sprayed with shotgun pellets "throughout his torso and neck." His father, who had called 911, was frantic.

"I told him to stay put while I tried to get closer to the turkeys," he reportedly told authorities. "Then I heard something snap or break near me and a large figure rose up. I thought it was a turkey and I shot and it went down."