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Husband of hunting accident victim: 'Her life was cut way too short'

Jamie Billquist was watching TV at his home on Armenian Road in Sherman Wednesday night when  he heard his dogs barking.

His wife, Rosemary, had just taken their Labs, Sugar and Stella, out for a walk in the field behind their house after getting home from work.

He went outside to see why the dogs were barking and saw an ambulance pull into his driveway.

"Jamie, we've got a gunshot wound," an EMT who happened to be a friend of Billquist's said to him as he rushed into the field.

The victim was Rosemary. He rode with her in the ambulance to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa., where she was pronounced dead.

A neighbor, Thomas B. Jadlowski, 34, of Cornish Street, thought he saw a deer in the field and fired his pistol, according to the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office.  Then he heard a scream, sheriff's officials said.

Jadlowski told investigators he found Rosemary Billquist about 200 yards away. He called 911 and applied pressure to her wound.

Jamie Billquist said his 43-year-old wife had been shot in the hip roughly 100 yards from their house.

"They tried saving her," her husband said Friday morning. "It was just too bad. ... It's horrific. It will be with me the rest of my life."

Sheriff's officials said Jadlowski has been cooperating with investigators but so far no charges have been filed. The investigation showed that Jadlowski reported the shooting at 5:24 p.m., which was 40 minutes after sunset. It is a violation of state hunting laws to hunt deer after sunset, sheriff's officials said.

The pistol was a high-powered, single shot handgun often used for deer hunting, said Sheriff Joe Gerace.

Jamie Billquist said that his wife was on the property of their next-door neighbor when she was shot. He said that Jadlowski didn't have permission to be hunting on the neighbor's property.

The sheriff's office is working with state Department of Environmental Conservation investigators on the case and are conferring with the Chautauqua County District Attorney's Office which would decide whether charges will be filed. Jadlowski could not be reached for comment Friday.

"This is a horrific incident," Gerace said. "....This destroyed two lives."

He recalled a similar incident five years in the Town of Stockton when a 33-year-old man was killed while field-dressing a deer he had shot shortly after sunset on Dec. 3, 2012. The man's father fired the shot from about 100 yards away.

Hunter fatally shoots woman walking dogs in Chautauqua County, deputies say

Jamie Billquist remembered his wife as a loving and selfless woman.

"She was always out to help somebody. She never wanted credit and was always quiet about it," Jamie Billquist said. "She's just an angel. An angel for sure."

She was a devoted volunteer at Chautauqua Hospice and at WCA Hospital, where she worked doing medical transcription, she often took the time to help patients.

Her husband recalled how one day, she noticed an elderly man struggling to stand in the hospital parking lot. She  took one of her own benches from her home and put it in front of the hospital. On the bench is a message that Jamie Billquist said was pure Rosemary: "In a world where you can be anything, be kind."

Friends and co-workers Thursday night decorated the bench with electric tea lights, a yellow Lab stuffed animal and flowers. They also held a vigil.

"They sang and prayed," her husband said. "It was amazing. It was a community thing. I was blessed to be able to share it."

His wife would have loved it, Billquist said.

"For sure," he said.

Jamie and Rosemary Billquist (Provided by Jamie Billquist)

Billquist met Rosemary in 1990 at the Chautauqua Mall.

"When it was cool," he said with a laugh.

He remembered seeing her with a friend next to the old fountain.

"She was just beautiful. I just have to meet her," he remembered thinking.

They had been together ever since.

The Billquists lived in Jamestown and then about 10 years ago moved to Sherman where she had grown up. Her family was of Armenian heritage – her maiden name was Jafarjian – and they lived on Armenian Road. Jamie and Rosemary rebuilt her family house.

The Billquists did not have children but doted on their dogs, as well as their cat "T"– "for trouble," Jamie Billquist said.

Rosemary Billquist was an avid runner and bicyclist. He estimated she ran at least 60 marathons and they loved to travel around the United States so she could run them.

The pair would have been at the Turkey Trot Thursday, he said. Pictures from the 2016 race popped up on his Facebook page Friday morning. They were numbers 999 and 1000 and wore matching Santa hats.

Rosemary Billquist getting ready for the 2016 Turkey Trot. She was killed Wednesday in a hunting accident near her home in Sherman, the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office said. (Provided by Jamie Billquist)

There was no Thanksgiving celebration for Jamie Billquist Thursday. Instead, he was planning his wife's funeral. Viewings are scheduled at the Spitzer Funeral Home, 135 Miller St., Sherman from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday with a funeral service at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Sherman Community Church, 109 Church St.

Jamie Billquist is struggling to come to grips with what happened to his wife.

He said he knows the Jadlowski family and can't understand what happened.

"I think he needs to learn a lesson," he said of Thomas Jadlowski. "There's rules. You should abide by them.... It's disturbing. It's a two-second decision that he'll regret for the rest of his life."

And now his wife is gone.

"She could have done so much more," he said. "Her life was cut way too short."

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