Shooter: Bear moved into bullet’s path
ASPEN ” A man accused of fatally shooting a bear cub in May told a judge Tuesday that the animal moved into the path of a warning shot he fired.
Keith Peiffer didn’t formally enter a plea in Pitkin County Court but he spoke publicly about the incident for the first time.
“It wasn’t on purpose,” Peiffer told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely. “The thing moved at the wrong time.”
Peiffer said after the court appearance that he was among several residents at Lazy Glen Mobile Home Park who were having problems with bears during the spring. He said he even contacted the Colorado Division of Wildlife for advice. Wildlife officers told him to get BB guns to sting bruins and chase them away.
Peiffer, who said he uffers numerous debilitating illness and requires crutches to walk, confronted a bear in his kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. He said he chased the bear out of his house by shooting it with BBs.
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The bear ran up a tree in his lawn. Peiffer said he wanted to scare it away, so he fired a .22 rifle to make noise. The bear moved into the path of the bullet, he said.
The wildlife division investigated and ticketed Peiffer. The young bear weighed between 40 and 50 pounds.
“The animal didn’t pose a threat to a person as defined [in state statutes],” an agency spokesman said at the time.
If convicted, Peiffer faces a $1,000 fine Pitkin County Deputy District Attorney Matt Walker said.
Peiffer said in court that he couldn’t pay the fine. He is disabled and has a limited income. He hasn’t hired an attorney, he said, because that would cost as much as or more than the fine. The public defender’s office won’t represent him because the crime isn’t punishable by with jail time, he said.
State statutes don’t allow the fine to be waived or reduced, but Walker said it would be possible to set up a payment plan.
“I’m not unsympathetic to Mr. Peiffer’s plight,” Walker said.
The case will resume in December.