LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — Township Solicitor Richard Shackleton said he has nothing to apologize for after an animal-rights group videotaped him shooting live pigeons at a Philadelphia gun club.
In the video, which was shot by Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, Shackleton curses at the two women who videotaped him taking part in the live pigeon shoot Feb. 20 outside the gun club. The video has been posted to the Web site YouTube.
Stuart Chaifetz, an investigator in Cherry Hill, attended the Long Beach Township meeting April 9 to confront Shackleton and the Board of Commissioners. He said Shackleton said the most horrible thing he could say to a woman and then he drove away.
"This was such a horrible, hateful thing he did. I wanted to confront him in public about it. We were going to give him a chance to apologize or at least at some level he would be held accountable for what he did," said Chaifetz, of Cherry Hill, Camden County.
"I'm happy to say that what I said, I meant every word of it," Shackleton told Chaifetz.
SHARK is an animal rights group headquartered in Geneva, Ill. The group's president, Steve Hindi, said pigeon shoots are competitions in which thousands of live birds are shot to win prizes. A typical three-day contest can kill and injure as many as 15,000 birds, he said. They're illegal in most states, but are permitted in Pennsylvania.
"These are ugly, nasty events that attract ugly, nasty people," Hindi said.
Shackleton said he travels to Pennsylvania to participate in the pigeon shoots because it is the most difficult form of shotgun shooting.
According to Shackleton, SHARK members have been harassing members of the Philadelphia Gun Club all season.
"They've accused the members of criminal conduct and took photos of us without our permission," Shackleton said.
Hindi said several police reports were filed against Shackleton and other members of the club with the Bensalem Police Department but that police have not filed any charges.
Marianne Bessey, of Lansdowne, Pa., was one of the two women standing outside the club for about eight hours Feb. 20, videotaping members as they left.
"At the time that Mr. Shackleton drove out, I was standing on a public access on the side of the road closest to his truck and he yelled it right at me. I have a very good recollection of his face," Bessey said.
"I still have trouble with it. But on the other hand, he goes inside a gun club and shoots innocent pigeons for fun, so it must be in character for him to say such a vile remark," she said.
After the exchange between Shackleton and Chaifetz, township Mayor Joseph Mancini asked if the comments had anything to do with township business. He then suggested Chaifetz discuss the issue at Shackleton's Ship Bottom law offices.
On Thursday, Shackleton said the matter had been turned over to his attorneys for further review. Chaifetz said SHARK believes Shackleton's comments violate the Pennsylvania obscenity law.
A New Jersey Bar Association representative referred a request for comment to the state's Office of Attorney Ethics, which did not return a telephone call.
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