It only took about one hour for an off-duty Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer to identify and locate a suspect featured in a disturbing Snapchat video that circulated on Facebook Wednesday night.
A 23-year-old Potterville man was recorded near Doane Highway and North Hartel Road, in Eaton County, repeatedly striking a deer in the head with a hammer until the buck succumbed to its injuries.
Conservation Officer Todd Thorn was told about the video around 10 p.m. Wednesday by one of his relatives. An hour later, Thorn, who patrols Ingham County, tracked the suspect to a friend’s house, located on Doane Highway, where the man fully confessed to the crime and surrendered the partially butchered deer and severed head.
The Potterville man claimed that he was on his way home when he came across a buck, apparently disoriented from a recent car-deer accident, and decided to put the deer out its misery.
The video starts with the deer standing upright in the middle of the road, blinded by vehicle headlights. Words of encouragement and laughter can be heard throughout the video, which lasts less than a minute.
The Potterville man told Thorn that he and the witnesses loaded the carcass for transport and passed police as they were leaving the scene.
“I didn’t want to get the police involved,” the man told Thorn.
The case will be presented to the Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office for possible criminal charges. The man’s name will be released if/when he is arraigned.
Anyone who witnesses or suspects a natural resource violation should immediately call or text the Report All Poaching hotline line at 800-292-7800. Information can be left anonymously; monetary rewards may be offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of violators.
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens through general law enforcement and conducting lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.