Man Who Shot 8-Year-Old Dressed As Skunk Avoids Jail

Beaver County, PA — Thomas Grant, the man who accidentally shot his 8-year-old relative after mistaking her for a skunk, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment Monday.

A charge of aggravated assault was dismissed in February after a judge agreed with a defense motion that claimed there was no “proof of malice” on Grant’s part to support a felony charge.

Judge Harry Knafelc sentenced Grant to two years’ probation and also ordered him to pay restitution to the child’s family. His hunting privileges have been revoked.

Steven Valsamidis, Grant’s attorney, said the 8-year-old’s family agreed with the plea and the sentencing. However, the girl’s mother addressed the court and said she was angry that no adults took the time to look for her daughter before the gun was fired.

The 25-year-old was charged following a shooting that occurred on October 20 at his mother’s house. The girl was wearing a black-and-white costume and was playing on a hillside near a Halloween party, and Grant fired a gun in her general direction thinking he was shooting at a skunk.

The 8-year-old was flown to UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh and underwent surgery for injuries to her spine and intestinal organs. Altogether, the girl — whose name hasn’t been released — was hit with about 100 bird shots. She is still under medical supervision, including regular testing for lead poison. Further surgery will be required to remove the remaining pellets.

Valsamidis called the shooting a “tragic accident” and said Grant underwent toxicology tests that night. He had no drugs or alcohol in his system.

Do you think Thomas Grant should have gone to jail for accidentally shooting his 8-year-old relative?