View Full Version : Dead hunter's wife says shooter should never be allowed to hunt again

February 22, 2005, 07:22 PM

Dead hunter's wife says shooter should never be allowed to hunt again
Union Leader Staff

CONCORD - The wife of an Epsom man shot and killed by a fellow hunter says Steven R. Laro should never hunt again.

"I don't want him to hurt anyone else," Susan Proulx said of the Concord man who said he mistook Robert H. Proulx for a wild boar at the exclusive game preserve in Croydon, where the two were guests on Jan. 3, 2004.

Susan Proulx said her husband's silver hair and silver mustache could not be mistaken for that of a boar by any hunter who was taking a safe shot, and had identified his target.

"Hunting is not a right, it is a privilege," she said during an interview in her attorney's office last week in Manchester.

Were that privilege exercised with due caution, she argued, her husband of 22 years would be there to fix the snow blower and capture the eight flying squirrels she netted running about her house last week. Now, she said, she is alone.

"He was my family," she said.

Proulx, 58, owned Wildlife Taxidermy in Manchester. It was there Laro bought the Winchester semiautomatic rifle that killed Proulx, as well as his last archery license in 2003. The two had met through fellow hunter Roger Williams, a member of Corbin Park.

Susan Proulx has filed a civil wrongful death claim against Laro in Merrimack County Superior Court, alleging he took her husband's life negligently when he raised the rifle, looked down the scope and fired.

A jury acquitted Laro, 49, of criminal charges, including negligent homicide, last December.

"It's a slap in the face to all sportsmen," she said.

Her attorney and long-time family friend, Jason Craven, said no one believes that Laro intentionally shot Proulx but that he was "bound and determined to impress" the hunting party.

Susan Proulx said she has been a hunter since 1973 and often hunted in Corbin Park. She was not invited that fatal January day because it was the "gentlemen's hunt" when a member's quota could be filled at the end of the season; anyone could take a boar if they were able to get one, she said.

When her phone rang about 10 a.m., she recalled thinking it was her husband calling to say what he had shot.

"But it was Roger calling to say Bob was dead. . . .," she said.

After the criminal trial, Craven wrote Fish and Game Executive Director Lee Perry on behalf of Susan Proulx and asked that the state deny Laro the privilege to hunt.

In a Feb. 3 letter to Laro, Perry wrote the state is considering revoking his license, stating the department determined "you were directly responsible for shooting and causing the death of Robert H. Proulx. . . ."

The former Franklin police officer will either submit his lifetime hunting license to the state by March 16 or face a public hearing of the Fish and Game Commission that could strip him of that privilege.

Even if he decided not to attend the hearing, Perry said, the hearing would go forward.

By statute, someone who kills another while hunting immediately loses his license to hunt upon indictment and must petition the Fish and Game director after 10 years if he wants it back. But the law also states that the person must be "convicted" of that act.

After Laro's acquittal, Fish and Game Col. Jeffrey Gray said he believed another law allows the director to take away a person's hunting license for cause.

He cited RSA 214:18, which reads in part: "the director may order the suspension of the license of any person in his discretion and without hearing, and may order the license delivered to him or his representative whenever he has reason to believe that the holder thereof is physically or mentally an improper or incompetent person to carry firearms, or is handling firearms improperly or so as to endanger human life or property, or for any other cause that he may deem sufficient. . . ."

Laro told investigators he was not prepared to fire when he spotted a wild boar at the private game preserve Jan. 3, 2004.

"I saw a boar," Laro told investigators in a tape played for the jury from a Jan. 7, 2004, interrogation. "I wasn't set up. . . . I took my rifle off my shoulder and tried to get my finger out of my glove," he said.

Laro is a former military police officer, a decorated marksman and FBI-certified firearms instructor and an experienced hunter. He was hunting with a scope set on a magnification of five in foggy, rainy conditions, with Proulx 72 yards away.

The New Hampshire Sportsperson License Report shows that Laro was sold a lifetime license combination on Jan. 4, 2001. In 2003, he also held a resident archery license, a muzzleloader permit, turkey permit and a special archery permit.

Laro is a stay-at-home father now. He has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached last week through his civil attorney, Richard Mitchell of Nashua.

Susan Proulx said her husband knew Corbin Park "like the back of his hand" and the only one in the hunting party who did not seem to know his way around was Laro.

"He'd been going there for 25 years. It is an extremely safe place to hunt," she said. Susan Proulx said she has great memories of times hunting in Corbin Park with her husband, noting he shot his first elk there in the 1980s.

"Corbin was like a paradise for Bob and (me). It was one of the most precious places. We worked hard and looked forward to going there. It was beautiful and safe."

The 24,000-acre enclosed shooting preserve, founded in 1890, has a very limited membership. The park features a barn and a lodge as well as stocked ponds and brooks. It is licensed as a regulated shooting area for boar, elk and deer.

Proulx said she obeys the first rule to always identify a target before shooting. She expects other hunters to do the same.

"I don't want this to ever happen to another hunter," she said.

February 22, 2005, 08:31 PM
I'm curious as to what they were wearing. Around my house I DON'T go hunting without Blaze Orange on... It's just unsafe. I read statistics and Blaze orange helps prevent accidents like this. However; the media will never be able to tell the TRUE story because all forms of media are biased.

I feel that as long as this guy was an expert marksman he had the ability to provide a quick and clean death to this poor man and that is the only thing good about this whole incident/article.

February 22, 2005, 08:44 PM
I'd like to see all these cases prosecuted for criminally negligent homicide. The fact that the jury aquitted Laro means that they feel hunters have no responsibility !! :mad:

February 22, 2005, 10:36 PM
Blaze orange or not, the shooter should have postively identified his target.There is absolutely no excuse for not doing so. If he wasn't sure, he should never have taken the shot.
Regardless of the jury verdict this man negligently killed another person.

February 22, 2005, 10:40 PM
Unfortunately our jury's are negligent when it comes to releasing someone. I don't think all parties were informed on what it takes to be a hunter, and there probably wasn't a single hunter on the jury. I agree being that he was a marksman he should have been WELL aware of his target whether he knew the woods or not.

Although the world is run by people like this one lady who thought that in New York we should all 'herd' deer into a big fenced in area so they don't eat her bushes. And she posted her 'article' on what to do about wildlife control in our local newspaper. Little does she know, she's stupid. :p

February 24, 2005, 10:43 AM
Not enough facts in that article to determine whether negligence was present. But it PROBABLY was, and so I tend to agree he shouldn't hunt again, and be held financially responsible. The jury in the criminal case obviously found that there was no GROSS negligence involved; else manslaughter would have ensued. But that doesn't mean there wasn't ordinary negligence involved, giving rise to financial liability. Depends on many details of what the shooter actually SAW and KNEW about the whereabouts of his fellow hunters, etc., and whether, under those conditions, a reasonable person from that area of the country would have taken the shot. Depends on lighting, terrain, vegetation, distance, clothing and other features of the deceased, relative to that of the intended game, including the mentioned silver hair and mustache, and if it was dark, whether shooting after dark is legal and/or reasonable there, as well as whether he actually knew OR reasonably should have known the specific or at least general whereabouts of those in his hunting group, based on prior plans and discussions, overall size and layout of the land, whether the deceased was errant from his stated location, etc. Not even close to be enough facts to decide, but generally, in MOST circumstances, one can tell a person from game, even in camo clothes, and if not, then one shouldn't shoot (reasonably) - if occluded by vegetation. After all, pigs ain't camo, they're black or gray. Well, ok, so we know it was 72 yards, and we know it was foggy/rainy - all the more reason to exercise more care, but that can cut both ways, and a considerable distance - depending on the vegetation thickness, the distance alone might be unreasonable. He says he "saw a boar" which is clearly a mis-statement. He saw what he *thought* was a boar, that wasn't. The question is what made him think that, exactly, and was this reasonable in light of all factors? In any event, tragic. :( Let's be careful out there, boys - talk to your fellow hunters and line out your shooting lanes!

February 24, 2005, 11:41 AM
Negligence and pure stupidity. There is no excuse, period. This should never happen anywhere. Unfortunately we will have case like this every year probably for eternity. As long as there are negligent people, whether it be the shooter who doesn't identify his target or the victim failing to take the basic steps necessary to make sure he is easily identifiable to other hunters.

March 1, 2005, 06:42 AM
I must differ; if this man was aquitted by a jury so be it. And I might add that I think it is a gross injustice that someone be tried for what is in essence the same offense twice.

March 1, 2005, 07:23 PM
I must differ; if this man was aquitted by a jury so be it. And I might add that I think it is a gross injustice that someone be tried for what is in essence the same offense twice.

He was aquitted of the criminal charge of Crim Neg Homicide, that doesn't mean he wasn't careless and unsafe according to other standards. I see no reason why his license can't be pulled. You could kill someone with your car because you were driving like an idiot, be aquitted of criminal charges but still lose your drivers license because you didn't live up to your responsibility as a driver. Just because you beat criminal charges doesn't mean there isn't some other governing body concerned with other aspects of your conduct. No difference here, whoever issues the hunting license feels he has failed to live up to his responsibility as a safe hunter.

Now if you want to talk about the B.S. where you beat the criminal charges and then the FEDS come up and slap you with a civil rights violation, I would agree that's "legal" double jeapordy that goes on all the time. They just trade one criminal charge for another, instead of assault it's a civil rights violation. you end up in jail anyway. Here we're talking about a far different scenario, the conduct wasn't criminal but it wasn't in accordance with the standards a licensing agency feels are required to hunt. He's not being charged of a crime just having a privelege revoked.

Quite frankly he should be too embarrassed and shamed to ever hold a weapon again while hunting.

March 2, 2005, 04:34 AM
"Careless and unsafe" ... leading to the death of a person is basically what negligent homicide is. A jury evidently did not see it that this man was "careless and unsafe", contributing to the death of the other. I do not see why someone cleared by a jury of their peers in a criminal court should be tried for what is in essence the same thing again in another.

I do not agree with the idea of making everyone wear blaze orange. I won't often wear it if I do not have to. But, it is a calculated risk, and those who would tend to attribute responsibility in this case ought to ask themselves why the dead man wasn't wearing a blaze orange hat and other clothing.

This sort of thing is simply making lawyers rich - brealing the financial backs of many an innocent person - and is going to make the liabilities of shooting and hunting in general so high that it truly will be a rich man's sport only in this country.

March 2, 2005, 08:13 AM
Criminal conviction requires proof "beyond a reasonable doubt";
Civil trial requires only proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

99% is not equal to 51%.

We're all taught to be sure of our targets, and I've passed up shots when I couldn't see enough of the animal to be absolutely sure - why couldn't this guy?

March 3, 2005, 04:25 AM
The subjective terminology and numbers aside, all that is required in both courts is convincing the jury.

N.H. Yankee
March 27, 2005, 08:19 AM
I knew the man killed, Bob P. I will not use his full last name, the guy that shot him was a former cop that got fired after problems and the shrink that examined him said he was a liar, abused his authority, could not be trusted and get this SHOULD NOT HAVE A GUN! This was printed in the newspaper so it isnt heresay. The jury that presided over him that found him innocent was not aware of any of this, and he had about the best lawyer in the state a former attourney general, also the prosecution knew the defendant and didnt try as hard as he should have and may have felt it was just a bad day in the woods! They were hunting in a private club and they were wearing camo, N.H. has no orange law and we have very few shooting accidents. The thing is he had his scope on 5 power with a 300SAM in a Browning A-Bolt and the shot was 70yds. he stated he just got in his stand and WASNT ready but fired 2 quick shots at what he thought was a boar from a tree stand. He said it happened because Bob wasnt where he said he would be, DUH there are other people hunting there too!!! This guy had FBI training and was a firearms expert who trained other officers. He is now being sued in civil court for I think, 2 million by Bobs wife. I have a friend who was there that day and he said its hard to believe it was an accident but that is just opinion, he said while it was light drizzle it was by no means so bad that he couldnt see and if he couldnt he shouldnt have shot! I wish they had fired the SOB because now this sets the wrong example, as long as you shoot and you think it was game its OK to kill someone! I have never shot at anything that I didnt 200% identify, I had an idiot in all camo with a facemask hunched down creeping threw heavy brush blowing a grunt tube!! he sounded and moved just like a deer and when he came out in semi open woods he still looked like a deer. I didnt even take my safety off because I couldnt 200% identify the target. When he saw me he came over to talk and I told him what he was doing was not the smartest and should at least wear an ornage headband or orange camo hat. I told him I have been in all orange and have had deer walk within 10ft of me and as long as I didnt move they were no the wiser. The very next day who is out there doing the same thin with the same clothes YUP!!!!
Getting back to the shooting, my theory is the shooter being a Macho type wasnt going to be outdone and was going be the first to score, sadly I have seen these types before and avoid hunting where they do at all cost.

March 28, 2005, 11:59 AM
I will NEVER understand how another humane can be mistaken for something other than what your intended is, not 100% sure,don't shoot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

novus collectus
March 28, 2005, 12:24 PM
N.H. Yankee,
What time of day was it? I'm just curious and not looking for an excuse for this guy. Just want to learn from this incident for when I start hunting.

April 6, 2005, 11:38 PM
Jury of his peers! No such thing. THe defense will drag out jury selection as long as they have to in order to get idiots on the jury they can brainwash. All you need is a few lower class poor jurors to ruin a case no matter what the facts. O.J. remember

April 7, 2005, 06:31 AM
The guy pulled the trigger on a target that he wasnt sure about. The target turned out to be a human, the guy should go to jail !