Two men from Illinois were arrested Tuesday in the shooting of a Texas game warden Sunday near Sulphur Springs in Delta County.
Eli Stephens, 18, and Dalton Haddix, 21, who had come to Texas for the holidays, were booked into the Delta County Jail, said Mike Cox, a spokesman for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Game Warden Chris Fried, 31, of Cooper was off-duty and bow hunting Sunday at the Cooper Wildlife Management Area when he was shot about 6 p.m.
Investigators determined that the shot from a high-power rifle came from private property next to the 14,160-acre wildlife area, which is reserved for archers, Cox said.
“According to investigators, Fried had been sitting in a blind, hoping to take a deer, when he saw a light and heard what he believed to be a electronic game call,” Cox said. “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 that entered his right shoulder and lodged in his chest.
“The warden yelled, ‘You shot me!’ but no one responded or came to his aid,” Cox said. “Fried then used his cellphone to call for help.”
Fried was in stable condition Tuesday at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Cox said.
Stephens faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, and Haddix faces a charge of failure to report a felony, a Class A misdemeanor, Cox said.
A tip from a Delta County resident led authorities to the suspects, Cox said.