Man, 71, dies after shooting at sports club

A 71-year-old man died Sunday morning when a member of a skeet shooting group accidentally shot him in the head at the Old Fishermen's Club of Modesto, authorities reported.

The man has been identified by the Stanislaus County coroner's office as William Herrmann of Modesto.

The club, at 10800 Maze Blvd., is about nine miles west of Modesto on the San Joaquin River.

A group of club members met Sunday to go skeet shooting, said Lt. Mario Cisneros of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department. The accident happened about 9:30 a.m.

"A few of them were near their vehicles," he said. "One of the gentlemen accidentally touched his trigger and discharged his weapon."

The shooter's gun happened to be pointing toward people a few feet away, Cisneros said. He hit Herrmann in the head.

Herrmann was taken to a hospital by helicopter, Cisneros said. He was pronounced dead just after 11 a.m.

No information was available about the shooter, he said, and no one will be arrested.

"This was truly an accident," Cisneros added.

Phil Brugger of Modesto, a past president of the Old Fishermen's Club, said he had heard of no other injuries or deaths at the club since it was established in 1920. Brugger is on the club's board of directors.

Brugger said he did not know the victim, who was not a club member. The shooter was a club member, he said. His name has not been released.

"I know him to be a very capable gentleman," Brugger said. "I'm sure the man is absolutely devastated."

The shooter has managed and run the club's skeet range for years, Brugger said.

The only place weapons are allowed at the club are at its trap and skeet ranges, he said. Hunting and other target practice are not allowed at the club. Shotguns are the only weapons allowed on its grounds.

The organization promotes sportsmanship, preservation of the environment and social activities for its nearly 800 members, all of whom are men, Brugger said.

"It's extremely sad when we lose someone. It's horrible," he said. "I'm still in a state of shock."

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.