Man who shot teen dead in hunting accident 22 years ago loses firearms licence bid

Tuatapere man Brendon Diack ouside the the Invercargill District Court ahead of his unsuccessful bid to get his firearms ...


Tuatapere man Brendon Diack ouside the the Invercargill District Court ahead of his unsuccessful bid to get his firearms licence back on Friday.

A Southland man who shot a teenager dead in a hunting accident 22 years ago has lost his bid to get his firearms licence back.

Brendon Diack took police to court in Invercargill on Friday, appealing a 2015 decision to refuse him a firearms licence.

In 1996, Diack admitted to a charge of careless use of a firearm causing 16-year-old Mark Whyte’s death at Tuatapere and was sentenced to two months’ jail and fined $3000.

He also lost his firearms licence at that time.

During Friday’s hearing, Diack said he had applied for his firearms licence “five or six times” since 1996, but to no avail.

A hunter for years before the tragedy, he now wanted to go hunting with his sons and pass on his knowledge, he said.

Judge Mark Callaghan refused Diack’s bid to get his licence back, pointing to the 1996 tragedy and two incidents in 2013 and 2014 to show Diack was not a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence.

In 2013 Diack, who had a $300,000 a year contracting business, hit a man on the chin who owed him $300; and in 2014 he dug up  gravel he had laid for another client because he was owed $500, the judge said.

His actions, 17 years after the fatal shooting, were irrational and violent and showed he had not learned how to control his aggression, the judge said.

Diack was “possibly a risk to others if he had access to firearms”.

“His actions in 2013 and 2014 indicates he can’t control himself properly and in my view he isn’t a fit and proper person to hold a firearms licence.”

Earlier in the hearing, Diack said there had been a lot of angst in the community since the 1996 tragedy but he believed a lot of people had moved on except for Mark Whyte’s family.

“Jimmy and Shirley [Mark’s parents] are going to hate me for the rest of my days for what I done to their son, I am sorry about that.”

No-one went hunting with the intention of shooting a person, he said.

When people asked him about the incident he always sat down and talked about it and “believe it or not it still brings a tear to my eye … because it’s tragic.”

Apart from wanting to go hunting with his sons, he also wanted his licence back because it gave him the opportunity to speak with different hunters who were on the same page and he wanted to do trap shooting again, he said.

After the accident he had still gone out with hunters “videoing”, but it wasn’t the same, he said.

His lawyer, John Fraser said Diack was an honest and hard working man who in 1996 made a fatal error with a rifle.

Since that time, Diack had managed a business and had a stable home life, Fraser said.

Diack is the Tuatapere fire station chief which Fraser suggested would not be the case without the support of a large number of firefighters and a significant vetting process.

Fraser said the 2013 and 2014 incidents were minor and out of character for Diack and they did not demonstrate a pattern of  behaviour.

However, police lawyer Sarah McKenzie said the offences in 2013 and 2014 tainted Diack’s character when coupled with the the 1996 fatal shooting.

Southland police area commander inspector Joel Lamb said he had spoken to police officers in Tuatapere and they had expressed concern about the feelings in the community if Diack were to be granted a firearms licence.

Lamb said the major reason police had refused Diack’s application for a firearms application was due to the 1996 shooting.

He didn’t accept the incidents in 2013 and 2014 were minor.

“Incidents involving violence aren’t minor.”

A long-time mate of Diack’s, John Munro, said he did not get the feeling the Tuatapere community was divided over the 1996 shooting.

Diack was a respected member of the community and it was not in his nature to be aggressive, Munro said.

Spring Break, 2014: Girls gone to the hospital!

[I heard distant gunshots after midnight last night. They went on so long that it was likely kids around the campfire with no idea what they might hit. What happened to roasting marshmallows and sing-alongs.]


byDavid WaldmanFollow

attribution: The TSA Blog
Five of 38 guns discovered in carry-on bags by TSA agents across the country last week.

Another week heavy on the accidental self-shooters. I’m getting the impression that this was always the case, since the stream seems fairly regular and consistent. But it wasn’t until recently that I really began counting them as a distinct category. This list includes 21 people who accidentally shot themselves, plus one 8-year-old injured by the recoil of a handgun he found and fired. In combing through the posts from early 2013, and keeping tabs as we go through 2014, it seems we can expect to find about 75 such cases each month.All the regular categories were represented: four gun-cleaning accidents, one “home invasion” shooting (in which one “Second Amendments” a neighbor’s property), two holster accidents, four guns dropped and discharged, two cop and/or security guard mishaps, and an assortment of target shooting accidents, “just trying to scare someone” accidents, and “just wanted to show off my gun” accidents.

On the more unusual side, we had our second gun show accidental discharge of the year, plus our first television set shooting in a little while.

The week also took a heavy toll on the kids, with 13 accidentally shot or otherwise injured, ages 2, two 3 year olds, 8, 9, 11, 12, two 13 year olds, 14, and three 17 year olds. Plus one spring break vacationer was accidentally shot with her fiancé’s gun, which discharged when the bag it was packed in was tossed from the trunk of the car onto the sidewalk upon arrival in Panama City Beach. Ah, young love!

In related news, the Seattle Times reported over the weekend that in 2012, more Washington state residents were seriously hurt in accidental shootings than in any year since 1995. It made for an interesting study, because when it comes to accidental deaths due to firearms, the trend is usually downward, which may have as much to do with improved medical care (and available airlifts to that improved medical care) as with improved safety features on modern guns. But injury has its own unique costs, and shouldn’t be ignored in our surveys. Especially if the numbers are trending in the wrong direction. (Though I suppose it’s possible that some of those who in the past might have been killed in their gun accidents were saved by the aforementioned improvements in medical care, only to end up boosting the injury statistics, which would make it hard to argue that such incidents are, on an individual basis, part of a trend in the “wrong” direction.)

I’ll leave that to you to debate, if you like. In the meantime, the latest list is below the fold.

  1. KING CO., WA, February 2014: Earlier in the month, a man cleaning his pistol accidentally shot himself in the thigh. He then tried to drive himself to the fire station but pulled over into a parking lot and called 911 after becoming lightheaded from shock. He was treated and transported to Harborview Trauma Center.
  2. ST. MARIES, ID, 2/27/14: A Benewah County deputy will return to regular duty this week after he suffered a gunshot wound. Deputy Bryan Dickenson was on temporary leave after his 45-caliber pistol accidently discharged, shooting him in the lower leg, according to Sheriff Dave Resser. The incident happened Feb. 27. Sheriff Resser said the incident happened when he was out of town. He said Deputy Dickenson immediately notified dispatch and an investigation into the incident was conducted by the St. Maries City Police Department. “The consensus is that he was getting ready to come on duty and he had retrieved his pistol from the shelf to holster it. When he holstered it, it went off. The only thing he said he thought might have happened is that he inadvertently put his finger on the trigger,” Sheriff Resser said/Summer Crosby, St. Maries Gazette Record.
  3. MEMPHIS, TN, 3/05/14: Bartlett Police Chief Gary Rikard says one of his officers did not shoot a suspect when they served a warrant in Memphis, rather it was a bullet from another suspects gun that hit the man. The information came out during the Memphis Police Department’s investigation into the March 5 incident. Marcus Allen was shot in the hip as Bartlett officers tried to service a warrant for drugs. Rikard says Lontrelle Green accidentally shot Allen during the raid. Bartlett police officers said Green pointed a gun at them so they fired ten shots but did not hit either man.
  4. BUCKLEY, WA, 3/07/14: Officers were dispatched the afternoon of March 7 to an address of 272nd Avenue after taking a report of an accident, self-inflicted gunshot. Officers contacted a 21-year-old man who had discharged the firearm. He was transported for treatment.
  5. COLUMBUS, OH, 3/08/14: A man died in an accidental shooting that occurred early Saturday morning. Columbus police were called to the 1900 block of West Mound Street on a report of a shooting at 2:24 a.m. Saturday. Minutes later, responding medics pronounced the 70-year-old shooting victim dead at the scene. According to police, evidence at the scene indicates the shooting was accidental. Police say they have talked to the shooter, but no charges have been filed at this time. The victim has not been identified as police are working to notify the next of kin. UPDATE: Gerald Irvin, 70, died from a single shotgun wound to his upper body, according to Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak. Police have not named the shooter, but a dispatcher said he is Irvin’s brother. He has not been charged.
  6. CONGRESS TOWNSHIP, OH, 3/08/14: A Mansfield man accidentally shot himself in the hand Saturday after his firearm malfunctioned and it discharged while he attempted to fix it. The 21-year-old man was at a residence on the 7200 block of Palmer Road target shooting with two other individuals when the firearm discharged, according to a report taken by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
  7. GLEASON, WI, 3/08/14: A Gleason man is recovering from a gunshot wound. The shooting happened just after 2:30 a.m. Saturday at the residence of a 52-year-old man, who was able to call 9-1-1 and report he had been shot. The man told deputies he threw a bag containing a loaded pistol on the bedroom floor, and when it hit the ground, the .38 caliber Derringer discharged and shot him in the leg. The man is hospitalized at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. The man’s name and present condition have not been released. No criminal charges will be filed.
  8. MCPHERSON, KS, 3/08/14: A McPherson boy was taken to the emergency room Saturday for a gunshot wound. At about 11:40 a.m. Saturday, two 12-year-old boys were shooting .22 rifles behind one of the boys’ houses, and one accidentally shot the other in the right foot. The injured boy was taken to McPherson Emergency Room. Charges will not be filed.
  9. CHEHALIS, WA, 3/08/14: A vendor who attended a gun show at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds this weekend now faces reckless endangerment charges after a rifle he purchased from another seller accidentally discharged, causing a bullet to ricochet off the concrete floor and go into a display case. Though the gun fired in a room full of people, no one was hurt, said Linda Bailey of the Chehalis Police Department. Chehalis police responded to the fairgrounds at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
  10. DECATUR, AL, 3/09/14: Two people were injured when a handgun went off while being dismantled. The shooting occurred at 112 George Drive around 11:15 a.m. on Sunday. Decatur police say a Jeff David Massey, 24, and his girlfriend, Tammy Lynn Harris, 41, were living in a homemade shed behind the residence and were about to clean a handgun when it fired. The shot struck the Massey in the left hand, and then the bullet struck the Harris in her right leg. Both were transported to Decatur Morgan Hospital. They were treated for non-life threatening injuries and later released. The shooting has been ruled accidental, police said.
  11. EASTPOINTE, MI, 3/09/14: A teenager was shot in the stomach by another young man who was “flashing” a gun while visiting friends in Eastpointe on Sunday, according to police and witnesses. The injured teen is expected to survive, first responders said. The incident took place about 4:30 p.m. when a teen invited several friends over to his grandmother’s house on the 23000 block of Normandy near Nine Mile and Kelly roads. According to the grandmother, Marie Bates, one of the teens had brought over a handgun to the house and was showing it to the other youngsters in the house when the weapon discharged accidentally. “The young man was flashing a gun and it went off accidentally,” Bates said. Eastpointe Fire and Rescue crews responded to the house and provided initial aid to the injured teen, who is believed to be 16 or 17 years of age. The teen was transported to St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit for treatment.
  12. PARMA, OH, 3/09/14: Casualty/Discharging Firearms, Decker Drive: A Parma man, 25, was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center after he accidentally shot himself in the hand March 9 in his home. The shot also injured a dog.
  13. ST. HELENA ISLAND, SC, 3/09/14: The March 9 shooting of a former Beaufort High School basketball and football player was an accident, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. Witnesses have told investigators that Thomas Parker, 19, was shot in the face when a 16-year-old boy accidentally discharged a gun he was handling, Sgt. Robin McIntosh said. Parker was shot about 6:30 p.m. near Jenkins Point Road on St. Helena Island. Parker, a former wide receiver on the school’s football team and forward on its basketball team, has been released from the hospital, McIntosh said. McIntosh said the investigation continues, but no charges have been filed.
  14. EUREKA, TX, 3/10/14: The Navarro County Sheriff is investigating the shooting death of a three-year old child. The sheriff’s office confirms an 8-year-old shot the toddler once in the head.  The relationship between the two children has not been released at this time. The shooting happened at a home on SE 3144 in Eureka around noon. Deputies are currently pursuing the investigation as an accidental shooting, but have not determined yet if it was an accident. The Sheriff’s office is holding a 3 p.m. news conference to release more details about the shooting.
  15. BRUNSWICK, GA, 3/10/14: Police responded to an accidental shooting Monday. The incident occurred when two men were in the woods target practicing off Camp Road, according to Glynn County Police. Gary Drury, 65 was allegedly shooting at a target, but was unaware his friend 66-year-old William Joseph Crooms had walked into the woods behind the target. Drury noticed Crooms was missing and searched for him in the woods, finding him behind the target in the woods. Crooms was pronounced deceased of a single gunshot wound at 7:09 p.m. No charges have been filed against Drury at this time and a further investigation is underway.
  16. PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL, 3/10/14: A 19-year-old Alabama woman was accidentally shot in the leg as she attempted to unpack for a Spring Break vacation at the Shores of Panama on Monday night. Katlin Brianna Moore, of Quinton, northwest of Birmingham, and several fellow travelers were pulling bags out of a vehicle on the 12th floor of the condominium when Moore tossed a red duffel bag on the concrete, according to a Panama City Beach Police incident report. Inside the bag was a two-shot 9 mm Cobra Derringer pistol owned by 21-year-old Ancelmo Avilez Diaz, the report states. When the bag hit the ground, the pistol fired, hitting Moore in the left calf. Police on scene reported that the bullet went straight through Moore’s calf and grazed the back of her right leg. Moore’s friends tended to the wound until medical professionals arrived on scene. “Ms. Moore was alert and conscious and advised she was in serious pain,” according to the incident report. Panama City Beach Chief Drew Whitman said that officials are ruling the shooting an accident and charges are not expected.
  17. SUISUN, CA, 3/10/14: A Fairfield man was hospitalized Monday afternoon after police say he shot himself in the leg outside a Suisun City apartment complex. Officers were dispatched to the 600 block of Civic Center Boulevard at 3:01 p.m. after dispatchers received a report of a person suffering from a gunshot wound, Suisun City police Cmdr. Tim Mattos said. Officers arrived to find a crowd of people gathered in the area and the unidentified 21-year-old male lying on the sidewalk in a portion of the Village Apartments complex, which local authorities commonly refer to as “the maze” because of the clusters of apartment buildings scattered throughout the area. According to Mattos, the “victim,” who was conscious and breathing, was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his right upper thigh. He provided police with “a small amount of information” regarding the circumstances surrounding the shooting, however, through additional investigation, Mattos said, officers determined that the gunshot had been self-inflicted. The man later admitted to tossing the handgun, which resulted in officers and Suisun fire personnel scouring the area for the gun — including rooftops — but they were unable to recover it. Mattos said foul play is not suspected in the shooting.
  18. OLEAN, NY, 3/10/14: A 28-year-old Olean woman is in critical condition at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo today after being struck by a bullet from a handgun fired accidentally in her Martin Street home Monday night. Olean Police Capt. Robert Blovsky identified the injured woman as Connie Mascho of 1530 Martin St. The shooting occurred about 8:53 p.m. She was struck in the right shoulder with a bullet from a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol fired accidentally by another resident of the house, Logan Cooper, 24, who also suffered a gunshot wound to one of his fingers. No charges have been filed, according to Capt. Blovsky. The investigation is continuing. Olean city firefighters transported both gunshot victims in a city ambulance to Olean General Hospital. Ms. Mascho was transported via Mercyflight to ECMC and is in critical condition. Mr. Cooper was treated and released from Olean General Hospital. “At this time it appears that this incident was accidental,” said Capt. Blovsky.
  19. FREDONIA, AZ, 3/10/14: Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an accidental shooting Monday afternoon in the Arizona Strip. At about 1:16 p.m., deputies responded to the area of Cane Beds Road and Highway 389. Investigations determined a 17-year-old boy shot himself when he drew his gun from the holster while he was hunting in the area. The victim was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
  20. FAYETTEVILLE, NC, 3/10/14: A 48-year-old man accused in a shooting in the Gates Four community last week turned himself in to authorities Monday, according to a news release. Gerald Hilton Lord, 48, spent nearly a week at Womack Army Medical Center after authorities said he shot himself in the forearm during an argument with 18-year-old Thomas Earl Jacobs on March 10, a news release from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said. Jacobs suffered a superficial wound during the shooting, the release said. Lord, a delivery driver with, an online restaurant delivery service, went to an incorrect address March 10, a Sheriff’s Office attorney said last week. Lord initially pulled his vehicle into the driveway at the home of Thomas Earl Jacobs, 18, on the 6800 block of Towbridge Court, a news release said. After Jacobs twice asked him to leave the property, the department’s attorney said, Lord left and delivered the order to the correct address. As Lord was leaving, the attorney said, Lord claimed Jacobs was standing in his driveway and holding a baseball bat. Lord got out of the vehicle and approached Jacobs, a release said, and later produced a handgun. At some point, the attorney said, Lord was knocked to the ground, and his gun discharged.
  21. FLORENCE, AL, 3/11/14: Police are at a residence in the 400 block of Winona Street, in north Florence, investigating what was called in to 911 as an accidental shooting. Emergency personnel said one woman was shot and was flown from the scene to Huntsville Hospital. Reports were called in to 911 that the shooting happened when the woman dropped a gun on the floor and it discharged and the bullet hit her. Neither the identity of the woman nor her condition was immediately available. The shooting took place just after 11 a.m.
  22. BAKERSFIELD, CA, 3/11/14: The Kern County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting by an 8-year-old boy, who suffered a minor cut Tuesday morning after accidentally firing a gun, which recoiled back and hit him in the head. The incident happened at a school bus stop on the 2600 block of North Inyo Street in east Bakersfield. No one was injured was by the gunshot. A KCSO official told Eyewitness News the child found the gun in the street. Officials are investigating whether the gun may have been stolen.
  23. FARMINGTON HILLS, MI, 3/11/14: Police have suspended a manhunt in Farmington Hills after the victim’s story didn’t add up. Officers were searching Tuesday for a gunman after an 18-year-old man was shot at apartment complex at the Hunters Ridge Apartments and Townhomes, a gated community along 14 Mile, just west of Orchard Lake Road. Officers arriving at the scene early Tuesday morning were told by the victim that he knew the shooter and that the shooter had already fled in a vehicle. Some Bloomfield Hills schools in the area were put into “secure mode” as the victim, who police say was not a student, was rushed to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. West Bloomfield police officers were aiding in the search for the suspect who authorities described as armed and dangerous. Police later said, in a statement, that an investigation revealed the victim’s story was inconsistent with some of the evidence discovered at the scene.  Therefore, police ceased their search and were exploring the possibility that the victim may have accidentally shot himself on the way to work. The victim was in surgery Tuesday afternoon. His name has not been released. An investigation is ongoing.
  24. CHICO, CA, 3/11/14: A man who accidently fired his gun attempting to scare away a man he was arguing with was arrested by the Chico Police Department early this morning. Chico police received reports of gunshots in the 800 block of Rancheria Drive at about 1:20 a.m., according to a press release. The person who called police stated she and her friends were on a balcony when they were involved in an argument with a passing bicyclist, according to the Police Department. The woman then claimed the bicyclist shot at them several times before fleeing. Officers were conducting interviews and investigating the incident when a bicyclist flagged down other officers and stated he had been shot at, according to the press release. The bicyclist returned with officers to the scene and while investigating, Joshua Douglas, 30, reportedly walked out of his apartment and allegedly “spontaneously stated” he had accidentally fired his firearm while arguing with someone in front of his residence. Douglas was positively identified by the bicyclist as the man who fired a gun and Douglas identified the bicyclist as the person he had been arguing with, according to police. The person who reported the incident was friends with Douglas and had allegedly given a false statement to officers to protect him. According to Chico police, it appears Douglas was attempting to scare the bicyclist away while holding a firearm. No one was injured. Douglas was arrested on suspicion of negligent discharge of a firearm. The weapon was collected as evidence.
  25. INDIANAPOLIS, IN, 3/11/14: A toddler has been shot on the city’s east side, police dispatch confirms. The shooting occurred in the 2100 block of Mitthoeffer Rd. just after 6 p.m. Tuesday. When officers arrived, they found a three year old girl suffering from a gunshot wound to the hand. The girl was immediately transported by EMS crews to Riley Hospital for Children in good condition. Detectives interviewed the father of the child who told detectives that the child had retrieved the firearm from the couch area and shot herself accidentally. The dad and the child were the only individuals in the apartment at the time of the shooting. Based on the physical evidence, detectives were able corroborate the dad’s version of events and currently have not made an arrest in this incident. Representatives from Child Protective Services have been notified. The investigation is ongoing.
  26. GREENSBURG, IN, 3/11/14: A Greensburg boy died Tuesday night in what police believe was an accidental shooting at his home. Craig Roberts, a 13-year-old Greensburg Junior High School students was shot and killed in a home in the 1000 block of Carver Street, according to our news-gathering partners at RTV6. Police are still sorting out details, but a neighbor told the TV station that a father had been cleaning his gun in his home Tuesday night when he put it down and left the room for a few moments. That’s when a younger sibling picked up the gun and shot his brother. This marks the second shooting death of a student at the school in the last three weeks. In the last incident, 14-year-old Tyler Hall was killed by his father in a murder-suicide. UPDATE: Police said the teen’s 6-year-old brother accidentally shot him. Greensburg Junior High School Principal Matt Clifford said the victim was a student there and involved in drama groups, the school’s television production, the archery team and school choir. Family members said the teen was getting ready to go to an awards ceremony because he just made the honor roll. He also was an inductee into the National Junior Honor Society.
  27. DENVER, CO, 3/11/14: A police officer’s weapon was unintentionally fired while chasing a suspect in an apartment building and a woman was injured Tuesday afternoon. It happened at E. 33rd Avenue and High Street. Officers were pursuing a man they say was wanted for a parole violation. He ran into the apartment complex and hid in one of the units. Investigators initially said a round was fired into the door. There were several people inside the unit. It’s not yet clear if the woman inside who was hurt was hit by the bullet or shrapnel. Her injury was described as “superficial” and she will be OK. She was treated and released from the hospital. Officers arrested the suspect, 28-year-old Lorenzo Banks, on a probation violation warrant.
  28. BROKEN ARROW, OK, 3/11/14: A Broken Arrow boy was hospitalized after he accidentally shot himself with a handgun, police said. Officers responded to a home in the 3500 block of East Aurora Street about 8:55 p.m. Tuesday “for what was determined to be a reported accidental discharge,” according to Broken Arrow Cpl. Leon Calhoun.  An unidentified boy was discovered at the scene with a gunshot wound and transported to a local hospital, Calhoun said. His condition is unknown, police said. Investigators did not disclose the type of gun used or how the boy was able to access the weapon. UPDATE: The child later died. The identity of the child has not yet been released.
  29. CHARLESTON, SC, 3/11/14: Charleston police are investigating after a person shot himself in the hand this morning. Authorities were notified about the shooting at 9:20 a.m., according to officials with Charleston County’s Consolidated Dispatch Center. Charleston police were told that the shot was fired at the corner of America and Amherst streets in Charleston’s East Side community. Investigators, however, did not find any shell casings in that area, police spokesman Charles Francis said. The wounded man later told police he shot himself, Francis said.
  30. BURTON, SC, 3/11/14: A man accidentally shot himself in the face Tuesday in Burton after a handgun he dropped while trying to open his truck door went off, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report. The man, whose name and age were withheld, shot himself in the jaw and cheek at about 3 p.m. He had wrapped his gun inside his jacket, but it fell out when he reached for his keys, the report said. The handgun fired when it hit the truck bed, the report said. His condition was not available Wednesday.
  31. UNION CO., SC, 3/12/14: A Union County woman was arrested after deputies say she was drunk and shot herself in the foot. Lauren Vassey, 34, is charged with use of a firearm under the influence of alcohol or drugs by the Union County Sheriff’s Office after the shooting early Wednesday morning. Deputies and emergency medical personnel were sent to the home on Belvue Drive where they found Massey and a man in the driveway of the home. The man said Vassey took his gun from his truck and began playing around with it. The incident report states the gun owner said Vassey pointed it at her head at one point. The gun owner said he told her repeatedly to put the weapon down before it went off and shot her in the foot. Vassey was taken to Wallace Thomson Hospital for treatment. She was arrested after being released from the emergency room. Deputies report Vassey was tested and recorded a blood alcohol content of .23.
  32. RAINS CO., TX, 3/12/14: A 13-year-old boy is dead after an accidental shooting Wednesday afternoon in Rains County. Rains County Justice of the Peace Don Smith said the 13-year-old was at a 15-year-old friend’s house on County Road 2130 when the incident took place. The teen died of a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. The 13-year-old and his friend were in a bedroom of the home when the 15-year-old pulled the trigger of a 12-gauge shotgun not realizing it was loaded. The friend’s father was in the kitchen of the home when the accident occurred. The shooting appears to be an accident, but the Rains County Sheriff’s Office will investigate thoroughly. The teen’s name will not be released until next of kin has been notified. Both teens were students at Rains Junior High.
  33. FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, OH, 3/12/14: Kent City Schools is mourning the loss of one of its students today. An 11-year-old boy was killed in Franklin Township on Wednesday in what appears to be an accidental shooting. The alleged shooter is his 15-year-old cousin. According to the Portage County Sheriff’s Office, the two were home enjoying a snow day when it quickly turned tragic. The boys were playing with a gun when it went off. Channel 3 News has decided not to disclose their names, but we did obtain a recording of the 911 call. On the phone with 911, a young male caller yells, “Oh my god! He shot him with a pistol. … They were messing with the guns downstairs.” The 911 dispatcher asks, “So it was an accident?” The caller responds, “Yea, it was a total accident.” It happened on Johnson Road at around 11:30 a.m. When emergency crews arrived at the home within minutes, the 11-year-old Stanton Middle School student was dead.
  34. BOYCEVILLE, WI, 3/12/14: A 19-year- old man is dead after accidentally shooting himself while cleaning a rifle. It happened Wednesday night at the man’s home in Boyceville. The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department says there’s no indication the shooting was intentional or that there was any foul play involved. Emergency crews responded but the medical examiner pronounced him dead at the scene.
  35. MERIDEN, CT, 3/12/14: Police say a Hobart Street man’s gun discharged while he was cleaning it, firing a round through his television and into the wall of his home. Leo Gregoire, 37, of 101 Hobart St., was arrested Wednesday night and charged with illegal discharge of a firearm. Lt. Sal Nesci, the police spokesman, said Gregoire called police about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to report that his handgun had discharged and one bullet had gone through his television and into a wall of his home. Nesci said the handgun was a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson. Officers found one bullet lodged in the wall, Nesci said. There were no injuries and Gregoire surrendered the gun along with three other handguns, Nesci said. Gregoire had a valid pistol permit, Nesci said.
  36. WARNER ROBINS, GA, 3/12/14: A Warner Robins man is charged with Reckless Conduct and Involuntary Manslaughter after a shooting Wednesday afternoon left another man dead. The incident happened around 4:45 Wednesday at Southland Station Drive Apartments on Southland Station Drive. WRPD says the investigation revealed 19-year-old Aaron Taylor of Elko was struck in the head by a bullet from a gun that was in the possession of 19-year-old Marcus Dewayne Sallette. Taylor was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Sallette was charged in the shooting, which detectives have determined was unintentional. The case will now be turned over to the Houston County District Attorney’s Office for further review.
  37. PRATVILLE, AL, 3/13/14: The Thursday afternoon shooting of a 9-year-old boy appears to be accidental, said Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson. At this time there is nothing to point to foul play being involved the chief said. The boy was transfered by helicopter to Prattville Baptist Hospital about 6:30 p.m. Thursday to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Radio dispatch logs show Prattville fire medics were dispatched to a home in the 600 block of Upper Kingston Road at about 5:10 p.m. Thursday for a male subject shot. UPDATE 9 a.m.- Prattville police just reported that the 9-year-old boy victim of Thursday night’s shooting was shot in the chest with a small caliber pistol. Chief Mark Thompson said the bullet missed anything vital and the child is in stable condition. Officials say the case appears to be an accidental shooting.
  38. LUMBERTON, NC, 3/13/14: A Pembroke teenager is facing gun charges after accidentally shooting himself at a Lumberton motel early Thursday. Keno Chavis, 17, was treated and released for a wound to a hand at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, according to a hospital spokesman. Capt. Terry Parker said police went to Motel 6 on Lackey Street just after midnight Wednesday following a call from the hotel that shots had been fired and were told someone had gone to Southeastern Regional Medical Center with a gunshot wound. Officers went to the hospital and interviewed Chavis. “He wasn’t playing with the gun, but he was handling the gun when it discharged,” Parker said. Parker said the gun belonged to a member of Chavis’ family. Chavis, who was alone when the gun went off, was charged with possession of a handgun by a minor and discharging a firearm in city limits. A window in the motel room was damaged, but it’s unclear whether the damage, which amounted to $250, was caused by a bullet.
  39. BRONX, NY, 3/13/14: Two men were shot on the second floor of a Vyse Ave. apartment building in the West Farms section of the Bronx about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, cops said. Officers arrived and found Sage Chebere mortally wounded. It appears that Chebere was shot by a 32-year-old man following an argument over marijuana. The suspect shot also shot himself in the leg by accident, a source said. A 9-mm handgun was found near Chebere and a duffel bag of marijuana was found on the fourth floor, cops said. The older man was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in stable condition.
  40. QUEENS, NY, 3/14/14:  A 12-year-old Queens boy accidentally shot his 14-year-old sister early Friday, police said. The boy’s blasted his sibling in the abdomen about 2:25 a.m. in the family’s home on 164th St. in Jamaica, cops said. She was rushed to Jamaica Hospital with non-life-threatening wounds.  The boy told cops he had found the .22-caliber Colt revolver he fired one time. The boy and his mother were being questioned by cops Friday morning. If his parents were unaware he had found the gun, they would likely not be charged, a police source said.
  41. SAN BERNARDINO, CA, 3/14/14: A security guard at a medical marijuana dispensary accidentally shot himself in a foot on Friday night, March 14, San Bernardino police said. The shooting, with the guard’s own .40 caliber gun, occurred just after 9 p.m. at 3386 E. Highland Ave. The guard was expected to recover, Lt. Travis Walker said. San Bernardino police planned to write a report recommending that the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office charge the guard with negligent discharge of a firearm, Walker said.
  42. CROSS CREEK TOWNSHIP, PA, 3/14/14:  A Washington County woman said she accidentally shot one of her roommates in the head during an argument late Friday, state police said. Louis E. Ruscello, 39, was in critical but stable condition Saturday in UPMC Presbyterian, state Trooper Douglas Rush said. Roommate Tracy J. Chechuck, 26, remained in the Washington County Correctional Facility on Saturday, charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Rush said Chechuck, her fiance, Lowe M. Hawkins Jr., and Ruscello were drinking in an Avella bar on Friday before returning to the Cross Creek, Washington County, home they have shared since December. There, Hawkins and Ruscello began to fight, with some pushing, shoving and yelling, Rush said. Chechuck got a .45-caliber pistol registered to Hawkins, Rush said. She briefly sat down in the living room with the gun, before entering the kitchen where Ruscello was pushing Hawkins against a stove, and Chechuck tried to intervene. She chambered a round in the gun, Rush said. “For whatever reason, the accused decides to go get a gun to try to scare the victim,” Rush said. “She put it up to the victim’s head, and it went off.” Chechuck dialed 911 to summon police and medical help for Ruscello, Rush said. When police arrived, Chechuck and Hawkins insisted that the gun went off by accident, and she hadn’t intended to shoot Ruscello.
  43. PORT DEPOSIT, MD, 3/14/14: Deputies are investigating yet another careless shooting case — this time after a woman discovered that a stray bullet had shattered a window at her Port Deposit-area home and then lodged in a nearby wall, according to the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office. The woman called authorities on Friday night after finding a bullet hole in the bedroom off the master bedroom inside the home on Pilot Town Road and a corresponding hole in the drywall behind that window, police said. Investigators do not believe the house was targeted, but, rather, that a person shooting a gun at an unknown spot in the woods near the residence did not consider his or her surroundings and the trajectory of the fired bullet, Holmes reported. The Port Deposit-area case was reported about six weeks after a homeowner called authorities in February to report finding three random bullet holes inside his house on AJS Court in Elk Neck — not far from the home where a 10-year-old girl died from a “celebratory” bullet fired on New Year’s Eve more than 14 months ago.
  44. VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, 3/14/14: A Virginia Beach house sitter looking after a home filled with pot and guns accidentally shot himself, leading police to the home filled with pot and guns. Police records show a 35-year-old man called 911 last Friday after the accident. A Beach police officer, identified as J. Lopresti, raced to the home in the 1400 block of Partlett Court to help the wounded man. When he got inside, the officer “observed marijuana, smoking devices, plastic baggies, several cellular phones, several firearms and security cameras in plain view,” according to a search-warrant affidavit. Just before the wounded man was taken to the hospital, he told a second police officer he was house sitting for a friend. Police said the homeowner had a minor criminal record, mainly for alcohol problems. Police seized marijuana and handguns from the house, according to the search warrant. A police spokeswoman said Wednesday no one has been arrested.

For Safety’s Sake, Some Gun Collectors Should Switch to Stamps

According the Associate Press,five people were wounded in accidental shootings at gun shows in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio on Saturday. That’s five shooting victims—all in one day!

At the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, a 12-gauge shotgun discharged as its owner unzipped its case for a law enforcement officer to check at a security entrance, injuring three people, a state Agriculture Department spokesman said. Two bystanders and a retired deputy sheriff were hit by shotgun pellets and taken to a hospital.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that it was too early to know whether the shotgun’s owner might be charged, but that it appeared to be an accident. (But don’t be surprised if the victims are the ones who end of being charged—with failure to wear a bullet proof vest at a public gun show.)

The North Carolina show, which is held at the state fairgrounds (not annually, but four times a year), usually draws thousands of people (some of whom actually survive the event unscathed).

In Indianapolis, police said a 54-year-old man was injured when he accidentally shot himself while leaving a gun show. (He could have saved himself the entry fee if he would have just shot himself before leaving home.)

Emory L. Cozee, of Indianapolis, was loading his .45 caliber semi-automatic when he shot himself in the hand as he was leaving the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife show at the state fairgrounds. Police said that loaded personal weapons aren’t allowed inside the show, but (presumably since the shooting occurred outside the building in the fairgrounds parking lot) no charges will be filed. (After a trip to the emergency room, Cozee is comfy once again.)

And in Ohio, a gun dealer was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he’d just bought when he accidentally pulled the trigger. The gun’s magazine had been removed, but one round remained in the chamber, police said. The afore-mentioned (magic) bullet appears to have ricocheted off the floor and struck the gun owner’s friend in the arm and leg. The (erstwhile) friend was taken by helicopter to a hospital 30 miles north in Cleveland; his condition was not immediately known.

Now I’m not trying to trounce on anyone’s God-given American rights (except the self-allocated “right” to hunt and kill animals recreationally), but for safety’s sake, maybe some of these folks should take up crocheting, knitting or collecting stamps, rather than gun collecting. Once they’ve mastered benign hobbies such as these, if they still feel the puerile need to prove their machismo, they could work back into it slowly, starting with craft shows or canasta tournaments.

Hell, it sounds like playing Russian roulette is probably a safer pastime than attending some of those gun shows.


How the Grinch Stole Hunting Season

In answer to the awful, dreadful opening day of hunting season, I’m re-posting the following uplifting poem (based on the Dr. Seuss classic Christmas cartoon)…

How the Grinch Stole Hunting Season

Every hunter

Down in Hunt-ville

Liked hunting season a lot…

But the Grinch,

Who lives just North of Hunt-ville,

Did NOT!

The Grinch hated hunting! The whole hunting season!

Now, please don’t ask why. There are many good reasons.

It could be because hunter’s heads aren’t screwed on quite right.

It could be, perhaps, that their belts are too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May be that their hearts (and other parts) are two sizes too small.

“They’re cleaning their guns!” the Grinch snarled with a sneer.

“Tomorrow is hunting season! It’s practically here!”

Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,

“I MUST find a way to keep hunting season from coming!”

For, tomorrow, he knew…

…All the Hunt-girls and boys

Would wake up bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!

Their rifles, their shotguns—all things that destroy!

And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!

That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Then they’d carve up the body of some unfortunate beast,

Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!

And they’d feast! And they’d feast!


I MUST stop hunting season from coming!

…But HOW?”

Then he got an idea!

A brilliant idea!



“I know just what to do!” The Grinch laughed in his throat.

And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.

And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!

With this coat and this hat, I’ll look just like Saint Nick

And I’ll slide down their chimneys, empty bags in my fist,


Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

A Natural Reaction

Like the Grinch, I hate noise.  

My detestation for din is rooted in an awareness of what it usually portends.

There are a lot of loud sounds in the natural world: a pond full of enthusiastic frogs, an energetic waterfall or the crashing of ocean breakers. But these are still relatively pleasing to the ear. Noise is a word that, to my mind, usually describes something man-made: an un-muffled car or motorcycle revving its engine, a loaded logging truck using compression to slow down for a corner, a monotonous jackhammer, Ted Nugent’s screeching voice or, of course, gunfire. I suppose there are a few natural sounds that could rival man’s machinery—a major earthquake or perhaps a volcano going off. But, like the sources of anthropogenic racket, these are the upshot of highly destructive processes.

Being the adaptable, accomplished noisemakers they are, sometimes people can be conditioned to thinking they actually enjoy things that should be unsettling to their senses—a burst of firecrackers or a Ted Nugent concert. But most animals are naturally stressed or panicked by the nerve-racking report of a high-powered rifle or a bombardment of blasts. It’s not just that they have keener senses; they instinctively know that such noise spells danger.

A lot of dogs experience extreme anxiety from fireworks or the blare of gunfire, often because they have an intimate or innate understanding of their destructive capabilities. We adopted an older dog from a shelter in Montana whose mortal fear of firearms must have been the result of someone using her as a target in her earlier life. Keiko would tremble every time she heard a gunshot; she’d seek shelter and would be inconsolable until the shooters had called a cease fire.

One winter morning during duck hunting season, a crazed, relentless volley of shots was too much for her. She ran off, and though we looked for her everywhere for weeks, we never saw her again.