• Experienced hunter killed in freak accident during target practice

    By: Dave Faherty


    IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. - A family and community are stunned after a freak accident killed an experienced hunter.

    Investigators said Robert Tatum, 23, was target practicing when the bullet ricocheted, hitting him.

    His fiancée found him dead Wednesday night at his home on Tatum Road in Iredell County.

    Investigators said he was shooting a steel target at close range when a bullet ricocheted striking him in the chest.  

    Neighbors said the couple has young children and were getting ready to get married.

    Johnnie Sutphin, who is a former law enforcement officer and owns a gun shop, showed Channel 9 two different kinds of steel targets Thursday.  

    Both deflect the bullets in different ways away from the shooter or anyone else.   

    He said it is very rare for a shot to ricochet right back at the shooter but it can happen if precautions aren't taken.  

    "It is extremely unusual for a bullet to hit exactly at the right angle and that target to be exactly at the right angle to come back at the shooter. The angle of that target is extremely important. Primarily they should be angled down toward the ground," said Sutphin.

    The gun shop owner also told Channel 9 when target practicing to have someone join you in case something does go wrong. That way that person can go get help. 

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