UPDATE: Two men have been arrested and booked into the Delta County Jail in Cooper in connection with the shooting of Chris Fried, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Warden this evening.
Charged were Eli Stephens, 18, and Dalton Haddix, 21, both of Illinois. Stephens has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony. Haddix was charged with failure to report a felony, a Class A misdemeanor.
According to a TPWD release , the two men, who came to Texas for the holidays, were taken into custody by game wardens Tuesday afternoon following an investigation by TPWD game wardens, Texas Rangers and the Delta County Sheriff’s Office.
The warden remains in stable condition in the intensive care unit of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where he underwent surgery early Monday for a gunshot wound from a high-powered rifle bullet that entered his upper right shoulder and lodged in his chest.
According to investigators, Fried had been sitting in a blind on the 14,160-acre wildlife management area, hoping to take a deer, when he saw a light and heard what he believed to be a electronic game call. Thinking someone might be illegally hunting on the state property, the warden went into law enforcement mode and left his stand to investigate. Moments later, as he walked toward the light, Fried was struck by a bullet. The warden yelled, “You shot me!” but no one responded or came to his aid. Fried then used his cell phone to call for help. Investigators have determined that the shot came from private property adjacent to the WMA. Information from a Delta County resident familiar with the area led wardens to the two defendants.
Off duty Delta County Game Warden Chris Fried was shot in the shoulder while he was bow hunting Sunday evening on the Wildlife Management area of Cooper Lake State Park near CR 1035 in Cooper.
"We are inclined to believe it was an accidental shooting, but we are not for sure at the moment," said Sheriff Ricky Smith.
It took nearly two hours for authorities and emergency personal to locate Officer Fried and given the weather were unable to care flight him. He was taken by ambulance to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital in Sulphur Springs and was last stated to be in stable condition. He will be transported to Parkland.
Local law enforcement along with assistance from Hopkins County, DPS, other Game Wardens and Texas Ranger are looking into all leads and those in the area of Cooper Lake State Park.