MAYVILLE, N.Y. -- A Chautauqua County hunter was indicted Thursday on a felony charge of second-degree manslaughter in the Nov. 22 fatal shooting of a woman whom he told authorities he mistook for a deer as she was walking her two dogs in a field behind her home in Sherman, New York.
Thomas B. Jadlowski, 32, also of Sherman, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of manslaughter and hunting after sunset, Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson and Sheriff Joseph Gerace announced Thursday afternoon at a news conference in the Mayville Municipal Building's emergency services offices.
The second-degree manslaughter charge carries a potential indeterminate prison term of 5 to 15 years.
Jadlowski entered a not guilty plea in Chautauqua County Court during his arraignment Thursday by Judge David W. Foley, who set bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 property.
Jadlowski posted bail and is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 29, Gerace said.
"This tragic event should never have happened," Gerace said. "Through the efforts of the Sheriff's Office, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and the District Attorney's Office, we have charged the defendant whose reckless actions resulted in the death of an innocent woman."
The woman, 43-year-old Rosemary Billquist, was shot near her home in the 2900 block of Armenian Road shortly after 5:20 p.m. on Nov. 22.
Jadlowski told Chautauqua County deputies that he mistook Billquist for a deer and that he was about 200 yards away from the woman when he fired a single shot from his .35-caliber, scoped, Thompson Contender pistol, whose barrel is just under 20 inches in length.
The weapon is classified as a pistol under New York State law, Swanson said.
"It fires a magnum round -- it's essentially a very high-velocity rifle round," Swanson said. "It's a pistol by classification only because its barrel is just slightly shorter than 20 inches."
Billquist was struck in the hip by the bullet fired from Jadlowski's pistol, Gerace said. After hearing a scream, Jadlowski told deputies he ran toward Billquist and found her wounded. He then called 911 and applied pressure to her wound.
EMS crews from the Sherman Stanley Hose Company Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the scene within minutes to find Billquist unresponsive about 150 yards behind her home. Billquist was taken to UPMC Hamot, where she died.
"I grew up in Sherman and I know the families and most of the people who know these people," Swanson said. "It's a small town and they're struggling right now because there is a tragedy and its affecting a very large portion of that community.
"Like the rest of Chautauqua County, the Town of Sherman has many responsible hunters," he said. "Having grown up in Sherman myself, I know of many families where hunting is a family affair. Responsible hunting is paramount to the safety of anyone enjoying the outdoors. This incident was completely avoidable."
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation assisted the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office in the investigation.
New York law only permits deer hunting between sunrise and sunset. Chautauqua County authorities said the shooting happened "well beyond the legal close of the daily hunting period at sunset."
"Today, Mr. Jadlowski is being held accountable for his dangerous and reckless conduct when he shot his neighbor in the dark," New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "I hope it serves as an example for all that illegal hunting after sunset and reckless conduct with firearms will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
Ron Leonardi can be reached at 870-1680 or by e-mail. Follow him on twitter at www.Twitter.com/ETNLeonardi. ___
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