Jason Matthews Parker, the uncle of 12-year old James Lee Parker, who was fatally shot during a hunting trip in Wake County on Dec. 28, was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and obtaining a hunting license under false pretense on Friday. He was released on a $10,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday, Jan. 31.
The arrest followed an investigation by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.
Officers charged Parker, 30, of Franklinton, in connection with the shooting. James Lee Parker, who was described by family members as an avid hunter, was hunting with family at W. B. Wells Recreation Center off Bent Road when he was fatally shot.
According to reports, the accident occurred around 8 a.m. when Jason Parker was trying to reload a 12-gauge shotgun and it accidentally discharged, striking James Lee Parker in the chest.
James Lee Parkers’ father, Jimmie Reid Parker, called 911 and told dispatchers, “My son is dead in a hunting accident. We were hunting. My son has been shot in a hunting accident.” The father told dispatchers his son wasn’t breathing and was lying limp on the ground.
A spokesman for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, which took over the investigation from the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, said Jason Parker had an “improperly acquired” hunting license and had not taken the mandatory free hunting education safety course. The license was valid, but since Jason Parker had not taken the proper hunting education classes, the license couldn’t legally be used to hunt wildlife.
According to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, all first-time license buyers must first successfully complete a hunter education course that requires a minimum of 10-hours. The classes are taught by wildlife officers, hunter education specialists and certified volunteer instructors.
Officials say that because of hunter education, hunting accidents have decreased by more than 50 percent during the last 20 years, making hunting one of the safest recreational activities.
Prior to the establishment of hunting education course in 1972, North Carolina averaged 10 or more firearms related hunting fatalities a year. Since the course was installed as a requirement for obtaining a hunting license in 1992, the course is credited with a decreased of one to three firearms related hunting fatalities on average annually.