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September 29, 2023

Pastor fatally wounded in local hunting incident

Russell Gap Baptist Church’s pastor, Rev. Seth Marsh, is shown here with his wife, Katy, and their children, Braelynn and Issac.

A local pastor has died in a hunting tragedy after another hunter mistook him for a coyote and shot him, authorities said.

Alexander County Sheriff Chris Bowman stated that on February 19, 2018, at approximately 5:52 p.m., the Alexander County Communications received a 911 call about a person who had been shot on Edd Burgess Road Extension in Taylorsville.

Sheriff’s Office personnel, Alexander EMS, First Responders, the N.C. Highway Patrol, Alexander Rescue Squad, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Taylorsville Fire, and Taylorsville Police officers responded to the scene.

Upon arrival, officers found Rev. Michael “Seth” Marsh, white male, age 26 of Taylorsville, suffering from several gunshot wounds to the chest area of his body. Evidence showed that Marsh was hunting coyotes and had an electronic coyote call. Marsh had a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22/250 Ruger American bolt action rifle that he was using to hunt coyotes.

When officers arrived on the scene, they encountered a man who was assisting in the medical attention of Rev. Marsh. The man, whose name is not being released, told officers that he heard coyotes screaming in the area. The man believed the coyotes had trapped something and he went to see what was happening. The man said he saw something that looked to him like a coyote that had trapped something in a tree. The man said he fired two shots at the brown and grey movement at the tree. The man had a .223 hunting rifle. When the man realized he had shot Mr. Marsh, he rendered aid, and called 911 for help.

EMS rendered aid on the scene and Rev. Marsh was transported by ambulance to Wake Forest Baptist Health – Wilkes Medical Center. Foggy weather prevented a medical helicopter from responding to the scene, said Bowman. Rev. Marsh was pronounced deceased at the hospital at approximately 8:00 p.m.

Marsh was pastor of Russell Gap Baptist Church, the Sheriff stated. According to the April 12, 2017, issue of The Taylorsville Times, Marsh and his wife, Katy, have two children, Braelynn and Issac. He had been pastor at Russell Gap for approximately one year.

Sheriff Bowman explained that man who fired the fatal shots lived nearby and did not know Marsh was in the area.

Officers with N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are assisting the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office in this investigation.

UPDATE: On February 21, 2018, the Alexander County Sheriff’s Office arrested Ronald Mathew Dunn, age 31 of Taylorsville.  Dunn was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter.  Dunn was the suspect in the investigation of the shooting death of Rev. Michael Seth Marsh that occurred on February 19, 2018, said Sheriff Bowman.  Dunn told authorities that he shot Marsh thinking he was a coyote.   Dunn was placed under a $75,000 secure bond and his first court appearance in this case is Monday, February 26, 2018, in Alexander County District Court.


Ronald Mathew Dunn


  1. Judy Testerman on February 20, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Our heart & Prayers goes out to the Marsh Family & Friends.
    Our prayers also to the shooter & his family. What a horrible thing to happen.

  2. Lee and Wanda Wimbley on February 20, 2018 at 11:37 am

    We just want the family of Pastor Seth Marsh to know that we are praying for them and that we are so sorry for their loss. Just know family, Brother Marsh is praising God in Heaven and we will all see him again. Brother Marsh preached at Faith Baptist Church in Newton,NC where we met the Pastor and his family. We love all of you and we are praying for you. God bless you is our prayer.

  3. Tara Noe on February 20, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    What a horrible accident. Please know my prayers are with you, your family, your church, your friends…. everyone. May God be with you and comfort you. From my family to yours, God Bless you.

    • Chad P on February 21, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      This is not an accident! This was stupidity that caused murder of an innocent person.

      Lesson #1 of gun safety = NEVER fire a gun unless you are certain of your target and beyond (in the likely chance you miss).

  4. Melena on February 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with both families of this tragic accident. There are times in life that we just have to trust or Lord, no matter the circumstances. My he lift both of these families in spirt, faith and comfort.

    • Paul Bel on February 23, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      Trust our Lord but also be trustworthy. Be certain of what you are shooting at.

  5. Trish Wilhite on February 20, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    May the Lord help you find peace in the time of sorrow. Many prayers are going to the family of Seth Marsh and to his parents. God Bless and Keep you as you heal from this terrible tragedy.

  6. Royal & Gretchen on February 20, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Kathy, Royal and I are devastated at your loss and we pray and lift you up and know that uses has his arms around you and those babies through this horrible time if there’s anything that we can do for you please don’t hesitate to contact us again we love you we love Seth and he is with God now watching down on us

  7. Jim Cessna on February 20, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    One of the first things I was taught before I began hunting was to positively identify your target before firing. This was extremely negligent by the shooter and he should be charged although I am certain that he did not intend to harm this young man. He basic rules of hunter safety was not followed.

    • Katie on February 20, 2018 at 7:03 pm

      I agree whole heartedly. Anytime you are hunting make sure you an clearly identify what you are about to shoot at.

    • Fweep on February 21, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      I completely agree. The first thing in any hunting class is: positively identify your target before firing.

      Not shoot at something that ‘look’ like an animal.

      I would charge the shooter with negligence and possibly a homicide.

  8. Amanda Kay on February 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    So sorry for your loss. May God bless you and your family through this time. Much love and peace

  9. Garland Hamrick on February 20, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Soounds like a job for The Grand Jury of Alexander County, The pastor walked on two legs the animals on 4.

  10. Dee on February 20, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    That was my first thought! Only a careless hunter just shoots without KNOWING and SEEING what he’s shooting at! Hopefully this man learned that. He will have to live with this the rest of his life. Sad all around. PRAYERS go out for this grieving family.

    • Chad P on February 21, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      I agree, but careless is not what this was…this was plain stupidity.

  11. Karen Martin on February 20, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    So heartbreaking! My deepest sympathy for Rev. Marsh’s family. I lift you in prayer and ask God to give you strength to make it through these dark days ahead. God Bless❤

  12. David Pilkinton on February 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    Never pull the trigger until you know what your target is. I have had a young boy shoot at me several years ago when I was deer hunting. May God be with the pastor’s family and give them the strength to carry on and hopefully be able to forgive the other guy stupidity

  13. Leslie Ferree on February 20, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    My prayers and condolences to you and your family. May the peace of Christ be with you all.

  14. Shannon Watts on February 20, 2018 at 8:23 pm
  15. Brent and Rosa Collins on February 20, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Marsh family and all of those involved! God bless u all and comfort u all in the weeks and years to come!

  16. Tracy May on February 20, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    Seth and Katy use to go to church with my family until he started preaching at another church. Very sweet people. Katy, Im beyond so sorry for your loss. Prayers are with you and ur children. Prayers also for Seths mother Becky!

  17. John on February 21, 2018 at 10:44 am

    At minimum, the guy should be charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide. This would have been completely avoided had he practiced common sense and identified what he was shooting at first.

    • Jimmy Tolkien on February 21, 2018 at 11:41 am

      John – at the very least he should be charged with manslaughter. If he isn’t charged, then something is wrong with the system here.

      • Scott Gilreath on February 21, 2018 at 11:42 pm

        All these coments of what the shooter should and shouldnt have done, is irrelevant at this time! Thats whats wrong with the World today! Everybody wanting to be ”the judge’. Even at a sad and serious time as this, you want to bash the shooter! Yes, it was poor judgement, but, try to be there for both sides! Pray for both families, and stop all this nonsense, of what should happen to the shooter!! Grow up and start praying for both families! Put yourself in both their shoes!!

        • Sandra on February 22, 2018 at 6:50 pm


        • Denise on March 30, 2018 at 11:41 am

          A Grand Jury can decide whether to charge him with something but I do believe he should go through that process because this is wrong to shoot without knowing what you are shooting! If people at least went through that process it might make other hunters and gun owners think before pulling the trigger!

  18. tj on February 21, 2018 at 11:45 am

    you never shoot until you see clearly what the target is, its a manslaughter charge, pure recklessness

  19. John Trussell on February 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    A terrible tragedy, totally avoidable. This is equivalent to a hunter hearing a noise in the bushes , thinks it might be a deer and shoots, killing another hunter. This is a felony in Georgia and I hope North Carolina has a similar law so the irresponsible shooter can be charged. My dearest sympathies to the family for their irreplaceable loss.

  20. Sporty on February 21, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    It wasn’t a hunting accident. It was a negligent discharge.

  21. Jenny Hix on February 21, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.❤️🙏

  22. Stephanie on February 21, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    I do not know Pastor Marsh or his family but my heart breaks as I read about this tragic accident. My thoughts and prayers go out to Pastor Marsh’s wife, children, family, friends and also his flock at the church where He pastored. Twenty four years ago this spring, our young Pastor, Mr Tim Jordan, was killed in a horrific car accident that was caused by a drunk driver who walked away unscathed. I don’t think there was one member of Tim’s flock who didn’t question how and why God chose to take Tim, a true man of His word, from his young wife, two small kids, and a church that was growing and thriving. My prayers go out to the deacons at Russell Gap Baptist Church because now is the time when your commitment to God and your church family will be tested to great limits as you attempt to deal with your own grief as well as the grieving of your congregation. I pray that God will give each of you the strength as you hold God’s flock together through this most difficult time.
    To Pastor Marsh’s wife, my prayer is that God will wrap you and those beautiful babies in His loving arms and carry you through the coming days. I also pray that God will, someday, allow you to forgive the man who fired that fatal shot. God would not want you to carry any anger or resentment in the future because we are not to judge our wrong-doers for he will be judged by God himself in the future.
    To the man and his family that mistook Pastor Marsh for a coyote, you are also in my thoughts and prayers. From the article it sounds like this incident took place around sunset and maybe that caused some visual impairment, I don’t know. I can only imagine the pain and sickness that you are probably feeling. This is a tragedy that will forever be on your conscience, however, we do serve a mighty God who is loving and also forgiving. If you have already given your heart and soul to Him, Praise the Lord. If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and personal savior, I pray that through this tragedy you will come to know Him, not because that “act” might make things look better, because He can help you through the coming days. Only He can wipe your slate clean. That doesn’t make reality disappear, but truly having Him and truly giving your heart to Him will help you face whatever the future holds for you.

  23. Dale Little on February 21, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    This is such a tradgedy. I am not passing judgement on anyone, but if you shoot a gun, please POSITIVLY identify your target before you shoot. If you have children and you allow them to shoot, please drive that home to them. This family is now hurting terribly, and will for sometime, and the young man who pulled the trigger will have to live with what he did.

  24. Kim Gray on February 21, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    I think we all need to be praying for both families because this is a tragedy for all involved. The young man that shot the pastor I am sure did not do it on purpose. Why do so called Christians start judging people when they have no idea and were not there. Judge not lest he be judged. Pray for ALL involved!!!

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