Pastor Mistaken for Coyote, Shot and Killed

A North Carolina pastor was hunting coyotes when another hunter mistook him for a coyote, then shot and killed him. It's a sad day for the community and the pastor's family.

On Feb. 19, police and EMS responders were summoned to a rural area of Taylorsville, North Carolina, where they administered aid to a man who'd been shot in an apparent case of mistaken identity. Officials identified the victim as Pastor Michael "Seth" Marsh, 26, of Taylorsville.

Marsh suffered at least two gunshot wounds to the chest area of his body. Officials then transported him to Wake Forest Baptist Health-Wilkes Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

When authorities arrived at the scene, they witnessed another man trying to help Marsh. The man—identified as 31-year-old Ronald Mathew Dunn—apparently mistook Marsh for a coyote, and fired two shots, striking Marsh in the chest. Upon realizing he'd shot a human, Dunn rushed to help Marsh and called 911.

Apparently, Marsh was hunting coyotes and the other hunter was unaware of his presence in the area. Marsh was wearing camouflage clothing and an orange hat, but a hooded sweatshirt covered the hat.

An investigation revealed that Marsh had been hunting coyotes with an electronic coyote caller. He also had a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22/250 Ruger American bolt-action rifle. The man who shot Marsh had a .223 AR-15 rifle.

Marsh was the pastor of Russell Gap Baptist Church in Taylorsville. He'd been the pastor at the church for approximately a year. Marsh was married with two young daughters.

Dunn told police he thought Marsh was a coyote. He indicated that he believed coyotes had trapped something under a tree. He fired two shots at brown and grey movement beneath the tree, striking Marsh in the chest.

"Whenever you point a weapon and pull that trigger, know where that bullet is going before you aim and shoot," Sheriff Chris Bowman said in a statement.

In this instance, the lack of firearm safety cost a man his life.

Police have charged Dunn with involuntary manslaughter.

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