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12/11/2013 2:00:00 PM
Damariscotta Man Allegedly Fires Rifle From Vehicle, Endangers Passerby
By J.W. Oliver


A Damariscotta man faces charges after allegedly shooting at a deer from his truck as another vehicle was going by.

Ronald L. Hopkins, 58, faces a Class C charge of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, a felony; and a misdemeanor charge of discharging a weapon from a motor vehicle.

Hopkins was in the driver's seat of his truck on Back Meadow Road Nov. 23 when he allegedly fired a .280-caliber rifle across the road and into a field, Damariscotta Patrol Officer Jason Warlick said. The field is posted as a no-hunting area.

A female driver "was attempting to go around" Hopkins, as she did not know he was about to shoot from the open door of his vehicle, Warlick said.

Hopkins "shot from his truck across the street as she was going out and around, so obviously it put her life in jeopardy," Warlick said.

The woman reported the incident to the Damariscotta Police Department. Warlick responded to the scene at about 3:30 p.m. and discovered Hopkins lying on his side in the field.

Hopkins told Warlick he fired the rifle at a deer, began to run across the field to retrieve the deer, and fell, injuring his hip, according to Warlick.

Game Warden Mark Merrifield, of the Maine Warden Service, also responded to the scene. Warlick and Merrifield searched the scene and found a rifle cartridge, but did not find a deer.

The Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service transported Hopkins to the Miles campus of LincolnHealth.

The police department later issued Hopkins a summons for reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon; Merrifield issued the summons for discharging a weapon from a motor vehicle. The Warden Service seized the rifle.

Hopkins, in a Dec. 10 phone interview, said he was under the influence of a doctor-prescribed drug at the time of the incident.

The drug often caused Hopkins to hallucinate, he said. "I was seeing things that wasn't even there," he said, including deer. "Everybody says I was so confused, I didn't know if I was coming or going."

"I thought I looked both ways," Hopkins said of the incident. "That just shows how messed up I was."

"I apologize to everybody that was involved in it," Hopkins said. "I apologized to the police department already and the game warden already."

Hopkins has since stopped taking the medication, he said, and feels much better.

"I'm just sorry for the whole shebang," he said. "I would never do anything to hurt anybody ... If I was in my right mind, I never would have done it."

The Damariscotta Police Department urges the public to follow all hunting laws and rules and to be safe, courteous and aware of their surroundings, Warlick said.

Maine law prohibits hunting from, over, or within 10 feet of a "public paved way," according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

It is illegal to shoot from a motor vehicle or have a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, except for paraplegics or leg amputees, who can shoot from a stationary motor vehicle. A person with a concealed-weapon permit can carry a loaded pistol or revolver in a motor vehicle for non-hunting purposes. It is also illegal to hunt on posted property.



Related Links:
• An official guide to Maine hunting and trapping laws and rules



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