Church pastor mistaken for coyote fatally shot in Alexander County

ALEXANDER COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A man who was fatally shot during a hunting accident in Alexander County Monday evening has been identified by deputies as 26-year-old Michael Marsh.

Investigators say the incident happened just after 6 p.m. in a wooded area along Ed Burgess Road, which is off of Highway 16 north of Taylorsville.

Marsh was reportedly hunting coyotes and using a coyote call when he was shot. Investigators say another man nearby heard the call, got a rifle and fired two shots at the "brown and gray movement" he saw near a tree.

The sheriff says after Marsh was shot he stood up "and yelled, 'stop shooting, you hit me.'"

The shooter, whose name has not been released, immediately called 911 and rushed to the wounded man to try to help. As he stayed on the phone and tried to help Marsh he could be heard imploring him to "hold on and keep breathing."

Medic arrived in minutes and Marsh was rushed to Wake Forest Baptist Health Wilkes Medical Center where he was pronounced dead around 8 p.m. Monday.

Investigators say Marsh did have a hunting license but they do not believe the shooter did. They are still looking into that but say to shoot at coyotes in North Carolina, a hunting license is required.

They do believe what happened was an accident but say it does not mean charges would not be filed. The District Attorney will make the final decision.

Marsh was the pastor at Russell Gap Baptist Church north of Taylorsville. Church member Coy Pearson says the young man had breathed new life into the church.

"He was a blessing to us there," Pearson said.

Everyone was stunned at the news, he added. He believes the biggest tragedy is how this affects Marsh's family. He leaves behind a wife and two small children.

"It's so sad," said Pearson, "He will never see his son play sports, or see his daughter walk down the aisle one day."

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