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Suspect Accused of Shooting Snorkeler Says He Thought Man Was a Large Aquatic Rodent

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REEDSPORT, Oregon -- The man accused of shooting a snorkeler in the head told investigators that he mistook the swimmer for a large, water-dwelling rodent, the authorities said.

William Roderick, 60, of Reedsport was arraigned Thursday in Douglas County Circuit Court on assault and other charges. The victim, John Chessman, 44, of Marcola, remained in serious condition at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland.

Roderick told detectives he saw what he believed to be a nutria swimming in the Smith River. He said he grabbed a rifle and shot at the rodent from a deck overlooking the water, sheriff's spokesman Dwes Hutson said.

After realizing that Chessman was not a nutria, Roderick helped pulled him from the water. Hutson said Chessman was conscious after the shooting.

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Reader Comments

13 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

He should have said he thought the victim looked like a rocket launcher and he would get away with it. The onus should be on the shooter to be sure of his target(even if you think shooting amimals for fun is justifiable). Mistaken identity should not be a defense outside of war/self defense
   comment# 1   - s mat · uk · Feb 12, 2007 @ 7:09am

Quite right, one of these days we have nations in a nuclear war just because they were suspicious...
   comment# 2   - Carlos · Portugal · Feb 12, 2007 @ 6:10pm

Was this guy doing drugs? Like meth amphetamime or was he just a stupid drunk? What a retard! Throw him in jail and make him pay a huge fine.
   comment# 3   - Capt beefart · asia · Feb 13, 2007 @ 11:25am

he sould go to jail for a long long time for killing a human not a whatcamacallat
   comment# 4   - jessica gardner · williamston, nc · Feb 15, 2007 @ 2:19pm

what a moron!!!!!!!!
   comment# 5   - pete zenobi · milwaukee wisconsin · Feb 16, 2007 @ 7:15am

Nations will get in a nuclear war over a nutria?
   comment# 6   - cheesewhiz · elkhart, in · Feb 16, 2007 @ 8:11am

It really does sum up American 'intelligence'.
   comment# 7   - Elliot · London, UK · Feb 16, 2007 @ 8:57am

Hey! Not all of us Americans shoot at anything in sight. My stand on it is too verify your target before you put your finger inside the trigger guard, then if you shoot you shall be judged on your actions not your lack of judgment
   comment# 8   - Art Sr. · Anchorage Alaska U.S.A. · Feb 16, 2007 @ 11:57pm

Does every American fire his rifle when he sees an animal in the water?
   comment# 9   - Koen Voskuil · Holland · Feb 19, 2007 @ 5:21am

These comments and stories are created by people who live thousands of miles away and have nothing better to do with their lives than post inuendos and insults on here say info. The man in question is not a pill popping doper as you put it. The question should be why was a snorkeler tresspassing on private land and left his safety gear in his pickup, and why was he snorkeling in a river that has almost zero visibility and frequented by speed boats. And a snorkelers fins are under water not visible on the top.....Get your story correct. Nutria destroy river banks which causes errosion, the shooter was trying to protect the land where he was caretaking. Yes, it was partly his fault but if a person is in a place he is not supposed to be in, he must take a little of the blame.
   comment# 10   - Carol · Reedsport, OR · Feb 23, 2007 @ 9:49am

Look, my comment comes from someone who grew up with guns and hunting and has been involved with them for over 40 years, including 24 years of military service: There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for anyone to pull a trigger without knowing with 100% certainty what they are going to shoot. - Period. The "fault" is 100% the shooters - irregardless of where the snorkler was swimming. That's the reality. When you pick up a deadly weapon, you also pick up the responsibility of the consequences of your actions with it. I don't give a rat's a** about river bank erosion - we are talking about a man's life and well being. He'll be very lucky to come out of this without significant brain damage.
   comment# 11   - diver-dad · Bremerton., WA · Mar 3, 2007 @ 10:56pm

Nutria have especially sharp fangs, in which they swarm their prey. This man was clearly trying to shoot the attacking rodent as it mercilessly gnawed at the snorkelers face. And who gets shot in the face with a rifle, while underwater, and lives?
   comment# 12   - sir mingly · pritchard-montgomery, AB · Mar 27, 2007 @ 10:35pm

Responding to Carol: I'm from Coos Bay, and what I heard was not hear say. The man was also busted with drugs. Meth moslty, but a little bit of pot (marijuana), and was also admitingly drunk. Hmmm. And that's from the police blotter. You can check it out online. Maybe you knew that guy and wanted to defend him, because I know how stand up people in that area are, BUT the man was wrong. Point blank he should not have fired until he knew what he was shooting at. Especially in that type of area. Sure it could have been a nutria, or a freaking bear for that matter, but it also could have been a child, or in this situation an adult male... which, by the way looks nothing like a freaking nutria.
   comment# 13   - Grant M · Baghdad Iraq · May 23, 2007 @ 12:44pm
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