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Update: Delta County game warden shooting

Two men from Illinois have been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden, Chris Fried, in Delta County on Sunday, December 29, 2013.

xpatchgamewardenEli Stephens, 18, and Dalton Haddix, 21, were booked into the Delta County Jail in Cooper following the shooting.

Stephens has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which is a second degree felony, trespass by projectile and destruction of governmental property. Haddix has been charged with failure to report a felony — a Class A misdemeanor.

The shooting victim, Game Warden Chris Fried, 31, who was shot in the chest area with a 308 hunting rifle, was able to go home from the hospital on Monday, January 6, but then had to return to Parkland Hospital in Dallas because of a blood clot on Saturday, January 11.

Despite his return to the hospital, Delta County Sheriff Ricky Smith¬†says that he thinks Fried is ‘okay’ and will recover.

The bullet from the high powered rifle entered Fried’s upper right shoulder and lodged in his chest area, resulting in him being placed in the intensive care unit at Parkland Hospital where he underwent surgery, according to officials.

The two men who were charged in the shooting had come to Texas for the holidays and were taken into custody on the Tuesday after the incident following an investigation into the unintentional shooting, which happened at around 6 p.m. on that Sunday evening.

Investigators said that the game warden had been sitting in a blind on the 14,160-acre wildlife management area while deer hunting when he saw a light and heard what he believed to be an electronic game call. This led Fried to believe that someone may be hunting illegally on state property, so acting in full capacity as game warden, he sat his hunting gear down and left the stand to investigate.

“He hadn’t walked far from where he sat his hunting gear down when the shot that hit him was fired,” Sheriff Smith said.

After being hit with the shot, the game warden yelled, “You shot me!”, but neither Stephens nor Haddix responded or came to his aid, authorities said. Fried then used his cell phone to call for help.

“Investigators have determined that the shot came from private property adjacent to the wildlife management area,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Mike Cox said.¬†“Information from a Delta County resident familiar with the area led wardens to the two defendants.”

According to Sheriff Smith, Stephens allegedly fired his rifle from the private property at a wildlife management sign, which resulted in the charges of destruction of governmental property and trespass by projectile. Sheriff Smith said the bullet went through the sign, deflected off a tree and then hit the game warden.

Fried, who is stationed in Delta County, graduated from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden Academy in June 2009.

A benefit will be held for Fried and his family on January 18 from 5-7 p.m. at the Cooper Civic Center. The benefit will feature a chili and stew dinner, as well as an auction of the many items that have been donated.

By Josh Allen, eParisExtra 

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