Cody Hetrick and Alex Smith are teen hunters from Brookville, Pennsylvania, who have sparked outrage and are being investigated after a video was posted on Facebook showing them torturing a deer while hunting. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is investigating and could bring charges against Hetrick and Smith.
The video was posted on Facebook on Saturday, November 30 by Gregg Rossman. He wrote, “Something definitely needs done. This video was shared to me from a mutual friend on Snapchat.” Rossman added, “I was not a part of this! I shared simply to get the attention of authorities!”
It is not clear when Hetrick, 18, and Smith, 16, recorded the video and posted it on Snapchat or if anyone else was involved. Deer hunting season began November 30, according to The Morning Call.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission wrote on Facebook in a reply to Rossman, “Thank you for sharing this with us and for your concern for Pennsylvania wildlife. We are aware of the incident and we are investigating it. If you have any information related to the video, please report it to the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-888-PGC-8001 or the Game Commission’s Northwest Region Dispatch at 814-432-3187.”
Here’s what you need to know about Cody Hetrick and Alex Smith:
Warning: The videos below are graphic and show depictions of severe animal abuse.
1. The Teens Can Be Seen Kicking the Wounded Deer in the Face Repeatedly While Laughing
The 30-second video posted on Facebook shows one of the teens, dressed in camo and wearing an orange hat, kicking the deer in the face multiple times as the other teen laughs. The deer appears to have already been shot and wounded and is leaning up against a tree. One of the teens is standing near the deer’s back legs, possibly holding the animal down.
As the deer struggles to get away, one of the teens tells the other to put on a glove and “grab his horn and pull him away from that tree.” He warns his friend to watch out because the deer might try to “stab” him.
A second video shows more of what happened:
The teen can be seen grabbing the deer’s antlers and then kicking him in the face again while his friend steps on his neck. The teen holding the deer by the antlers begins stomping repeatedly on the deer’s head, causing it to bleed.
He then tells the deer, “stay the f*ck down,” as the video ends.
Bob Chase, the vice president of the Pennsylvania Hunting and Fishing Addicts group told KDKA-TV, “It’s not who we are as hunters. It sickens me to find out that something like that gets out and a lot of people think ‘hey, this is what these guys do in the woods,’ and it’s not at all like that.”
2. The Pennsylvania Game Commission Said ‘the Conduct Portrayed in the Video Is Reprehensible & Potentially a Violation of the Law’
In a Facebook post on Sunday, December 1, the Pennsylvania Game Commission said, “The Pennsylvania Game Commission is aware of a video purporting to show individuals assaulting an injured deer. The conduct portrayed in the video is reprehensible and potentially a violation of the law.”
The game commission added, “Pennsylvania State Game Wardens are currently investigating the matter. If you have any information related to the video, we ask that you report it to the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-888–PGC-8001 or the Game Commission’s Northwest Region Dispatch Office at 814-432-3187. Thank you for your help and for your concern for Pennsylvania wildlife.”
The game commission said investigators have not yet determined where or when the incident recorded on video and posted to Snapchat occurred. On Monday, December 2, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northwest Region Office told PennLive.com the investigation was ongoing and they had more “boxes to check,” before moving forward. “There’s a will to resolve this thing as soon as possible,” commission spokesman Travis Lau told the news site. He said of the incident, “It’s not something that we regularly encounter.”
Brookville Police told WJAC-TV that the incident is outside of its jurisdiction and the proper authorities were notified. Brookville is located in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. The Jefferson County district attorney’s office has not yet commented.
3. Hetrick & Smith, the Stepson of the Local Police Chief, Are Students at Brookville High School, Where Hetrick Is a Member of the Wrestling Team
Cody Hetrick and Alex Smith are both students at Brookville High School in Pennsylvania, according to social media posts. Hetrick is a member of the high school’s wrestling team, according to Pa-Wrestling.com.
Alex Smith is the stepson of Brookville Police Chief Vince Markle, according to a local news site. Markle told Erie News Now he recognized Smith in the video right away and was sickened by what he saw. He told the city solicitor that it was Smith in the video, the news station site. Markle and the city police department are not involved in the case.
The videos have sparked outrage on social media. Several Facebook users left comments on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Facebook website about the video.
“Something needs to be done to those two individuals. Loss of possession of any weapons for life, loss of all hunting privileges, never be able to obtain a Carry Conceal Permit, and have a mental evaluation done,” Larry Houston wrote.
Heather Stanbro wrote, “These boys need a psych evaluation. The act alone is disgusting, but to also think it’s ok to record it and share it on social media shows (I’m assuming in hopes that their friends would think it’s cool) is extra alarming.”
Erin Pilcher wrote, “Thank you Pennsylvania game commission for following up on this. There is absolutely no excuse for this disturbing and fowl behavior. As an ethical hunter myself, the thought of these two being called a hunter is sickening. I speak for myself, and likely for all ethical hunters in saying that we in no way support these horrific acts and hope that they are punished to the full extent of the law. This was a choice these two made and they are old enough to know right from wrong. I hope they receive more than a slap on the wrist.”
Josh Paull said, “Potentially? Animal cruelty for starters is a crime. I sure hope the PA Game Commission is going to revoke their ability to ever hunt in this state ever again.”
4. Angry Social Media Users Have Been Leaving Negative Reviews for a Restaurant Owned by Detrick’s Family
The outrage over the video has spilled over onto a Brookville restaurant owned by Hetrick’s family. His parents, Rob Hetrick and MeriBeth Hetrick, opened Devil’s BBQ in 2018, according to a local news article.
Angry commenters posted on the restaurant’s Yelp page, before Yelp limited posting and began monitoring the page. The restaurant’s Facebook page was deleted, but several negative reviews remain on Google.
Hetrick’s brother, a wrestler at a local college, was arrested on several charges in November 2019, according to a local news report.
Jordan Mescall told WTAJ-TV, “We’re in redneck Pennsylvania, people go possum stomping, its nothing different than that. It’s wrong yes, but you can’t control other people.”
Zach Lash, who works at a local gun shop, told the news station he knows one of the teens and didn’t think he would do something like what was seen in the video. “Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like that around here with people that I knew,” he said. Lash said he and other hunters would not do what was done by the teens. If it is shot and doesn’t die, “shoot it again and put it out of its misery.”
5. A Change.org Petition Has Been Launched Calling for Charges Against the Teens & for Them to Be Banned for Life From Hunting
Two petitions on Change.org have gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures in the two days since the video was posted on Facebook and went viral. One of the petitions is calling for criminal charges against the teens and has more than 250,000 signatures. The second petition is calling for the Cody Hetrick and Alex Smith to be banned from hunting for life.
Christopher Hall, of Berwick, Pennsylvania, who launched the second petition, wrote, “These two give hunters a bad name. They tortured an injured buck, kicking it repeatedly in the head and breaking its antlers off. should not just be prosecuted but banned from hunting for life. As a hunter I find this deeply disturbing and a disgrace. Hunting should serve a purpose and unfortunately these two have no morals.”
Hall added, “Please petition to keep these two out of the hunting community for good. You can still hunt with a felony, so unfortunately a criminal conviction won’t ban them from hunting again, as they can still use crossbows. The Pennsylvania Game Comission has the power to ban hunting for life and that’s exactly what should be done.”
Mike Wolf, who started the other petition, wrote, “They committed sickening acts of violence and tortured this helpless deer. The two of them took video of the actions and are seen laughing while restricting the animal, crushing the animals face, repeatedly kicking and stomping the animals face as the animal is desperately and helplessly seen trying to evade.”