A Santa Rosa man who fatally wounded a fawn when he shot it in his front yard with a pellet gun entered a plea bargain Friday with prosecutors to donate $2,000 to an animal rescue group and pay a $500 fine.
Robert Bergeron, 73, also will pay $114 in veterinarian bills and perform 100 hours of community service for the July 16 incident outside his house in the Oakmont retirement community.
In exchange for his no-contest plea to two misdemeanor violations, prosecutors agreed to drop three other charges — taking a deer out of season, taking it without a license and a weapons violation.
He will be on probation for three years but will serve no jail time.
Lynn Hajek, a former neighbor who witnessed the shooting and tried to save the fawn, said no donation can make up for his “senseless act” against a harmless animal.
“It's so tragic that somebody can even think like that,” said Hajek. “Nothing can bring the fawn back.”
Bergeron, a former police officer, firefighter and IRS agent, could not be reached for comment after his court appearance Friday.
He expressed regret in a brief interview after the shooting and explained that he acted out of stress over his wife's medical condition and a home remodel.
However, police said he told them the shooting was an accident and he didn't know the air rifle was loaded.
Hajek said he deliberately shot the animal as she and her husband were walking by.
She saw Bergeron emerge from his house, aim and fire on the 30-pound deer, which was standing with its mother and another young deer. The fawn, which was struck by a pellet in the spine, made a noise and fell to the ground, she said.
Bergeron ran into his house and refused to come outside, she said.
Hajek and her husband carried the bleeding animal away and called for help. A veterinarian later determined it couldn't be saved and ended its life.
Under the plea bargain, Bergeron must donate $2,000 to Sonoma-based Wildlife Fawn Rescue. He will also repay the veterinarian for his services and take a hunter safety course.
Marjorie Davis, founder of the deer rescue group, said she wished Bergeron had been sent to jail. She called the killing “unnecessary and barbaric.”
“I am furious,” said Davis, who brought the fallen fawn to the vet. “I would have sentenced him to at least 30 days. For his community service, I would have him out on the highway every day, picking up trash.”