Safety & Security

Alabama Teacher Shoots and Kills Student While Hunting

Joshua Stewart Burks, a 36-year-old Alabama middle school teacher and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, allegedly shot a fifth grader Troy Ellis to death while he was hunting during a spring turkey hunt.

Burks was originally charged with reckless manslaughter. But after a grand jury heard testimony on December 10, that charge was upgraded to capital murder of a person under the age of 14. If he is convicted, he is eligible for the death penalty.

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Burks is currently out on $60,000 bond and has not yet entered a plea.

At just 11 years old, Troy was a student at Cahaba Elementary School in Trussville, Alabama at the time of his murder.

Troy’s father, Obed Ellis, a high school football coach, was also injured in the shooting.

The shooting happened during a turkey hunt that was arranged by a group that organizes hunts for wounded veterans. Burks is an amputee and had never been hunting before.

Troy’s family filed a civil lawsuit against Burks, the hunting guide, Kyle Eugene Henley, and the group that sponsored the event, America’s Heroes Enjoying Recreation Outdoors.

In the lawsuit, Troy’s family accuses Burks of having taken several pain pills the night before and the morning of the hunt.

Burks’ attorney, Tommy Spina, said the following of the grand jury’s decision:

“The events that occurred that day were devastating on many levels and our sympathies are with the family of the young man that lost his life in what we believe was a tragic hunting accident. I am hopeful that the evidence will ultimately establish that what occurred that day was not an intentional act.”

18 thoughts on “Alabama Teacher Shoots and Kills Student While Hunting

  1. This is a horrible accident on every level. I could go on and on and on how this should have never happened, and so on. I haven’t seen all levels of this hunt, but just reading what has been placed here, it makes me wonder how this hunting event was ever put together!!! You have people hunting that never have, one has an amputated leg, the victim is 11 years old, those 2 alone should have NEVER been hunting in the same group!!! To young, to unstable, and these people are in the woods with high power weapons and very little visibility!!! I hate to say this but something like this was bound to happen.
    My heart goes out to all involved and I really hope others thinking of hunting with young one see this and make other plans. Way to dangerous for this to take place. Go to the local Sportsmans Club and have fun. This is no fault of the 11 year old, but who needs this to happen to there child? Have fun at the local range. Why risk a catastrophe? No need. This stinks for all involved.

  2. Sounds like a bad accident to me. Hunting is a dangerous sport no matter who is doing it. The article does not provide enough information for anyone to truly know what happened or how it did. Sadly many who hunt lack the sense to do so properly. Thee have been many stories of people shooting family members because they did not follow the rules. One man even shot a Woman hanging laundry. He was doing the one thing No Hunter should ever do but many do so anyway shooting toward a home. So the author neds to provide all the FACTS so people can make an informed reply.

  3. I believe that this was most likely a hunting accident that happens every now and then. unless he was a republican and then of course the Democrats will try to hang him.

    1. Joaquin – you should be ASHAMED of yourself…especially if it was supposed to be a “joke”. The loss of a child – at any age, much less at 11 yo, is devastating enough without YOU making fun of it…you obviously are not old or wise enough to know when to keep your “funnies” to yourself!!! You OWE the family and everyone else a PUBLIC apology!!! I hope you “get it” and learn a valuable lesson. The loss of a child at ANY age or in ANY manner is a deep disaster in life. Please take this as a very important lesson in life.

    2. I agree with your comment 100%! And I believe President Trump would too! (Not intended for this as joke; this was a terrible thing! I am so very sorry for all involved)! But yes, Republicans are most definitely discriminated against these days!

    1. Burka should be punished severely but does not deserve the death penalty unless it can be proven he meant to take this young boy’s life intentionally. I really doubt that but Burks should have been supervised at all times. Terrible tragedy

    1. I would expect fully qualified personnel and true adult supervision. Obviously that wasn’t present. Would you feel any better if the kid had been run over by a tractor trailer. Fact is plain and simple supervision by fully qualified adult personnel wasn’t provided.

  4. I am from Alabama and I have never heard of anyone who would be hunting turkeys with a high powered rifle. They use shotguns for turkeys and high powered rifles for deer and or wild boar. Article didn’t say the shot was from what type of gun?

    1. Yup, high powered rifle for turkey means a bunch of feathers and guts splattered everywhere. This wasn’t hunting, this is idiots with absolutely no reason to be out anywhere with a rifle!

  5. This former Marine can’t tell the difference between a boy and a turkey? We always were taught not to shoot unless you know and sight your target. This goof doesn’t need to be in society, and should never be allowed to even hold a weapon again – EVER!!

  6. nothing adds up in this case–
    the 11 year old is certainly larger than a turkey-
    did they have orange safety vests on -safety hats-
    was there the possibility that there was a sexual
    undertone associated with this case-
    charges went from manslaughter to murder-
    the grandjury was told something that is not
    being told to the readers-
    will burks commit suicide-

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