GALLIPOLIS — On what would have been the couple’s 11th wedding anniversary, Denise Bradley — along with Gallia County Sheriff Joe Browning — spoke to members of the media Monday about the shooting death of her husband, Larry Bradley, and the investigation that has followed.
An anonymous letter was recently received by the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office with regard to the death, Sheriff Browning said during Monday’s press conference.
The letter — according to the Sheriff — stated that the shooting was an accident, and that the writer was sorry for the pain caused to the family.
“We received a letter — anonymous letter — someone basically claiming responsibility for that death and reaching out to us to ask us to pass on to the family that it was something that was accidental and not intentional,” said Browning.
On Monday, Denise Bradley made a plea for the person who wrote the letter to come forward.
“Accidents happen, and we all want to believe that we would do the right thing, but we weren’t out there, and everybody that shot their gun that morning around 8:20 knows that they shot their gun.”
“You would like to think if it was you out there you would do the right thing and go to that person if you thought you shot them,” said Bradley. “And I truly believe that it was an accident, but it’s not giving me any closure for someone just to write a letter. I would rather them show up on my door step and say I am really truly sorry and make it right.”
“You know God forgives, but not if you’re hiding,” she added. “And you can ask God for forgiveness, but if you’re not doing the right thing, I don’t think you’re going to get that forgiveness.”
Browning added, “I ask that person who is looking for closure, not only for themselves but for the Bradley family, asking them to come forward and finish the process with talking to us, so that we are able to complete our investigation, and maybe give them some resolution or comfort knowing that what happened to Larry was not intentional. If that in fact is the case, then I think the opportunity for them to come forward is now.”
Browning also noted that the person may not be from the area, with a large number of hunters coming to this region to take part in deer hunting.
Denise Bradley recounted the events of the morning the shooting took place, commenting that her husband had called to say he was in the woods and needed help.
“He called at 8:23 [a.m.] and said he needed help,” she said. She added that he would not tell her what was wrong, but that he was in the woods and needed help. He asked her to get his dad and uncle and have them to bring a ladder. While on the phone, she said her husband began to cough and choke.
“I was on the phone with him from 8:23 to 8:28 [a.m.], and the last minute I probably spent yelling in that phone to try and get him back,” she said. “When the coroner called he said he was hit in the aorta and he went fast, and he said he could have only lasted five minutes. Well that five minutes, I said, was spent on the phone with me trying to find out where he was at.”
Bradley added that her kids have helped to carry her through, but also recounted the fears of the children after the death.
“I want justice for him. He did not deserve to die like this and for nobody to say hey ‘I’m really sorry’,” she said. “A letter just isn’t enough.”
Larry Bradley was found shot on Dec. 2, 2013 — the first day of deer season in Ohio. Bradley was in a tree stand in the area of Thaxton Road in Morgan Township, about a mile east of Ohio 554.
During Monday’s press conference, Browning released additional information about the shooting.
“He was hunting out of a deer stand,” said the Sheriff. “The shot came from back to front and was in an area that was being hunted, not so much right where he was at, but the general vicinity is known for being hunted heavily in that area.”
Browning added that Bradley was not shot with his own weapon.
“If it is not his weapon then obviously we are looking that someone else was involved,” said Browning. “I don’t know that we are ready one hundred percent to say that this was an accidental shooting or an accidental death.”
Browning noted that the release of this information is an “opportunity with the help of the media to reach out and get some more information and some closure for the family and maybe even for the person who fired the shots.”
The portion of the letter released to the media reads as follows,
I am so sorry for the hurt and pain that I caused on that day. Can u please tell the family I am so sorry.
Browning stated that his office has been conducting an extensive investigation since the shooting took place, adding that they will be comparing the facts they have in the case with those stated in the letter to see if the letter is accurate. The investigation remains open and ongoing.
The letter will be sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification (BCI&I) lab for processing to see if any information can be taken from the letter itself.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office at (740) 446-1221.