OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. -- Six months after Wyoming teen Billy Gort was killed during a church hunting trip, the man police say accidentally fired the gun has been charged in the 13-year-old’s death.
62-year-old Jenison man Roger Hoeker faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Back in February, Hoeker, a church mentor with the program Christianity Outdoors and a state hunter safety instructor, accidentally discharged his small caliber rifle, hitting and killing Gort according to police.
A press release from Michigan State Police said orange hunting gear was being worn at the time of the shooting.
“It’s hard to forgive, and it’s hard to forget,” said Gort’s great-grandmother Catherine Yeaw. “I want to, in a way, forgive him, but it’s hard to do that. It’s hard.”
Gort, a Pinewood Middle School student in Kentwood, was an avid fan of hunting, fishing wrestling.
His family says closure is still a long way off, and only partially possible.
“Somewhat, but not all the way,” said Yeaw. “Because Billy’s not here, and he still is.”
To donate to Billy Gort’s GoFundMe Page, click here.
The family will also host a wrestling event on August 25th at Elizabeth’s Kitchen in Grand Rapids. Gort was a huge fan of the sport, and you can show up and make donations to the family at 3 p.m. or at the second show that day at 7 p.m.