VALATIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The ENCON officer shot during an investigation near Columbia County Tuesday continues to recover Wednesday evening, and local law enforcement is once again stressing the importance of hunter safety courses.
Jason Bertram, former Columbia County Sheriff, now teaches safety courses, and says they could mean the difference between life and death.
Police say Alan Blancard shot Environmental Conservation officer James Davey near Silvernails Road in the Columbia County town of Gallatin Tuesday evening. Police say it was a result of reckless conduct.
Davey was taken to the hospital with a bullet wound to his upper leg. Officials say his injuries are believed to be non-life threatening, but the incident still sent a shock wave through the local community.
“It’s just such a shame,” said Joe Naskte, who owns Shooters gun shop in Valatie. “James is such a good man and we worked with him several times. He’s just such a top notch guy. He’s well respected in his field by every other officer.”
Naskte opened the Shooters gun shop in Valatie 20 years ago. Now his son runs the business. They hose gun training classes, like the one held Wednesday evening.
“By taking this courses you learn the right way to handle them, and safely handle them,” said former Sheriff Bertram during the course Wednesday.
Bertram has been a hunter safety instructor for nearly 30 years.
“The one thing with ENCON officers, you really have to give those guys credit because every person that they deal with has a gun,” he said.
Bertram says accidental shootings can be avoided, but people have to attend training courses.
Current Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett agrees.
“Safety is number one,” he said. “We’ve taught thousands of students at the academy.”
The good news is out of the thousands of hunters in New York state only a small percent of them have accidents like the shooting on Tuesday.
“I think that’s because of the dedication of all the DEC hunter safety trainers… to provide the training and support for them,” said Sheriff Bartlett.
The goal of the courses is to prevent accidents from happening, but the experts say you need to know what to do if one does happen.
Make sure you know the quickest and safest way back home, and never hunt alone. Always bring a hunting buddy with you.