Stray Bullet Kills Texas Camper
Accustomed to hearing gunfire from those taking target practice in the distance, 58-year-old Perry Hook hardly felt in danger when he sat down outside his recreational trailer near Conroe, Texas, to relax while his wife cooked dinner on Thursday evening, May 8.
Even as he lay dying outside his trailer door, he didn't realize that he had been shot and that there was a link between the gunfire coming from a stand of trees about 400 yards away and his suddenly feeling so ill, a neighbor and relatives told the Houston Chronicle. "He kept on trying to raise his head. I stuck a pillow under it. He said two or three times, 'What happened? What happened?' " said Julie Russ, his next-door neighbor.
Hook, 58, was shot in the stomach while sitting outside his trailer about 8:15 p.m. at a KOA campground on Texas 105, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said. He was taken by ambulance to Conroe Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Eliseo Maldonado, 23, of Conroe, and Gregg Lamon, 32, of Montgomery, were charged with criminally negligent homicide and booked into the Montgomery County Jail, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said. Maldonado was held on $25,000 bail. Lamon's bail status was unavailable. Investigators believe that one of the two men taking target practice with a rifle similar to an M-16 fired the shot accidentally, said Hook's son, Perry Dan Hook, a deputy in the Harris County Sheriff's Department.
Maldonado and Lamon were shooting on private land, and the woods screened their view of the campground, the son said. In fact, shooting went on as Russ and Hook's wife, Helen, scrambled to call 911 and comfort Hook. Meanwhile, Russ worried that she, her daughter, who was hiding in the family's trailer, or Hook's wife might be shot.
The target shooters didn't realize that a man had been fatally wounded until police arrived on their property, Hook's son said. Montgomery County Sheriff's deputies found Hook suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Russ and Hook's relatives wondered why the men were shooting at targets so near a campground, homes and the growing number of businesses that have opened along Texas 105 near Lake Conroe recently.
They shot target practice so frequently that Russ concluded that the site, adjacent to the campground at 19751 Highway 105 West, was a gun range, not private land. "You heard them shooting all the time," she said. "This was totally uncalled for."
Mike Gast, corporate spokesman for Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA), said he had noted the increasing development around the campground while visiting it about a month ago. He questioned whether it should be legal to take target practice near homes and a campground.
Hook, a father of four who was a superintendent at a remodeling job at a Methodist church in Montgomery, had been sitting outside the trailer in a plastic lawn chair in front of a sloping meadow when he was hit by the bullet.