A Rifle man has been arrested for allegedly shooting a trophy-buck deer within city limits.
Police were called to the area of the Rife Cemetery on Birch Avenue on Oct. 23 where officers discovered a dead four-by-five-point buck deer, according to Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner.
Jamie Matthew Babcock, 24, was arrested for allegedly shooting and killing the deer around 6 p.m. the same night. Babcock is charged with felony counts of illegal discharge of a firearm, willful destruction of wildlife, hunting in a careless manner, illegal possession of wildlife, reckless endangerment and possession of a weapon by a previous offender in the case.
Police were contacted by a witness to the shooting. According to the Rifle Police report, the witness, who also lives in the area, told police that they were returning home from a walk that evening when they saw a blond-haired man believed to be in his 20s, holding a gun. The witness told police that they saw the man kneel on one knee, take aim, and shoot.
After the shot the witness said they saw the suspect walk from the parking lot of the apartment complex to an apartment located at 847 Birch Avenue, No. 4. After a few minutes, the witness saw the suspect emerged from the apartment, once again, and walk toward the area where he had fired the gun, according to the report.
Police took statements from two other witnesses that night, one of which was reportedly the nephew of the alleged shooter.
A point of concern for officers is that the area is surrounded by residential homes. Marrow Drive runs below the area where the deer was shot and according to the police report, the nearest house to the west of where the carcass was found is approximately 340 meters.
Officers determined that the range of an M-1 Garand Rifle, which shoots a 30-06 caliber round, and is the rifle believed the suspect used, at over 400 yards. In certain instances the projectile can travel upwards of one mile, according to Meisner.
"Theoretically, you can create a danger on the other side of town with a rifle like that," Meisner said.
That threat is the reason police charged Babcock with reckless endangerment, according to Meisner.
Babcock was also charged with intimidating witnesses or victims, also a felony, for allegedly threatening two witnesses in the case.
Babcock also has an extensive criminal history dating back to 2002. Most recently he has felony convictions of assault in 2008 and felony trespassing in 2010. Babcock is due in court for arraignment on Nov. 9 in this case.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife assisted Rifle Police investigating the case. According to CPW spokesman Mike Porras, wildlife officers kept parts of the deer as evidence, but the meat was donated to a local family.
It's unclear at this point if this incident falls within the parameters of the Samson Law, which allows stiffer penalties, between $4,000 and $25,000, for poaching trophy-sized game. The Samson Law was enacted in 1998 after a large bull elk, named Samson, was poached near Estes Park.
According to Meisner, the decision for the Samson Law penalties will be made by prosecutors.