Criminal charges have been filed against a White Bear Lake man who shot and injured a Washington County resident while hunting turkeys in western Wisconsin this spring.
Anthony Peter Cardarelli, 27, was charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court in Hudson with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, a Class G felony. Cardarelli told deputies that he was sitting in a tree when he heard movement in the brush and fired his shotgun at what he thought was a turkey.
Jerry Cusick, a Washington County sheriff’s commander who was off duty, was hit by 58 pellets at short range, knocked off his feet, and yelled “You killed me!” according to the charges. Cusick had a landowner’s permission to scout turkey hunting areas early on the morning of April 30 but Cardarelli didn’t, the charges said.
“I knew that somebody had made a horrible decision,” Cusick said Tuesday. He is a longtime firearms safety instructor and has taught safety classes in turkey hunting. He was scouting for turkeys in Somerset Township in preparation for hunting the next morning.
The charges said Cusick remembers hearing a loud boom and was knocked to the ground.
Cusick was hit mostly in his face, jaw, cheeks, throat and shoulder. The force of the blast felt like a baseball bat blow to the head, he said in an earlier interview, and he was bleeding so heavily that he was unable to use his phone to call for help. The pellets barely missed his eyes but shattered a front tooth.
Investigators and deputies arriving at the scene found that Cardarelli had fired from only 29 yards away, the charges said. He left his shotgun in the woods and walked to Cusick, who yelled at him to call 911. Cusick said he went to a nearby house where he awaited emergency responders.
According to the charges, filed Sept. 5, Cardarelli told investigators he had gone to bed at 7:30 p.m. the previous night and woke up at 3:45 a.m. He said he hadn’t consumed alcohol or used prescription drugs that night although he admitted he had smoked marijuana twice in the previous two weeks.
Cardarelli said he has a hunter safety certificate and had passed a hunter safety class, but he didn’t have permission to hunt on 43 acres of private property where the shooting occurred, the charges said.
“Cardarelli stated he saw something over his shoulder in the brush which was white and bluish in color and pulled his gun up, pointed it in that direction and pulled the trigger,” the charges said.
However, Cusick said Tuesday he was wearing dark clothes and a tan law enforcement cap. Turkey hunters are taught never to wear red, white and blue because those colors resemble male turkeys, he said.
Cardarelli will make his initial court appearance before Judge Eric Lundell on Oct. 24.
Cusick, 54, has returned to work at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, where he commands the courts and water patrol divisions.