Dad Fatally Shoots Son, 28, After Mistaking Him for Deer While Hunting: 'Worst Kind of Tragedy'

Authorities said Andrew "AJ" Smith was not wearing any orange hunting clothing when his dad Bradley Smith accidentally shot him on Dec. 2

Andrew Smith
Andrew "AJ" Smith. Photo: Facebook

Tragedy struck an Ohio family last week when a father accidentally shot and killed his son while out hunting, officials said.

Bradley Smith, 63, fatally shot his son, Andrew "AJ" Smith, 28, on Dec. 2., Delaware County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Tracy Whited confirms to PEOPLE, calling the incident "the worst kind of tragedy."

Whited says the father was with a group of friends hunting white-tailed deer during Ohio's annual deer gun-hunting week when AJ arrived at the location, and Bradley mistook him for a deer and shot him.

911 dispatchers received a call at 5:45 p.m. notifying them of the tragic accident, which occurred in a wooded area along Pollock Road, according to the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

Though the group was experienced and Bradley had been hunting with his son since he was 7 years old, Whited says AJ was not wearing any orange hunting gear at the time of the shooting.

Andrew Smith
Andrew "AJ" Smith. Facebook

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife requires hunters to wear orange clothing during deer gun season beginning 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

According to CBS affiliate WBNS, the sun set that evening around 5 p.m.

Whited says Bradley is not facing charges for the shooting, "but as is standard with death investigations, the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case."

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Originally from Elyria, AJ was living and working in Columbus as an independent contractor at the time of his death, his obituary states.

The former baseball player graduated from Lincoln College in Illinois in 2014 and went on to work for the college, and joined the Lincoln Rural Fire Protection District as a volunteer firefighter, according to his obit.

Years later, AJ returned to Ohio, where he attended the State of Ohio Fire Academy in Reynoldsburg. Following his graduation from the academy, AJ worked for the Oberlin Fire Department for a year before moving to Columbus in 2019, his obit states.

Funeral services will be held for AJ on Saturday at Dicken Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Elyria.

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