Thursday, May 05, 2016

News in brief

A few more of the bat -shit crazies and the haters

Political posters

Corporate news and Donald Trump 
Trump's wall

Republicans and science

Black people and guns

Making America great again

Republican network

Smaller government

Bernie Sanders quote

Food stamps

Bernie Sanders explains

Bernie Sanders quote

Charter schools

Keeping America safe

Separation of church and state


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Low petroleum prices are cutting into profits

Robert Reich

Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex W. Tillerson is delivering bad news to shareholders: Profits were down 63 percent in the first quarter financial results, announced yesterday. They were down by half in 2015. Low petroleum prices have forced Exxon Mobil to cut spending, reduce capital outlays, and borrow to meet dividend payments. This week Standard & Poor’s downgraded the corporation’s credit rating.

But don’t cry for Tillerson. He’s scheduled to retire next March with a nest egg of $218 million in Exxon stock plus a pension plan worth $69.5 million. His salary this year alone is about 500 times the median U.S. household income.

Even when big corporations and their shareholders lose, their CEOs seem always to come out winners. Isn’t it time CEO pay was capped at, say, 100 times the income of the median household? Shareholders should set this standard, and the government shouldn’t allow a company to deduct any executive pay in excess of $1 million.

The Credibility Trap

Max Fisher · Friday, April 29, 2016, 8:09 am

Why does a long-debunked theory keep leading the US into war?

If you have experienced even a few minutes of cable news coverage or handful of newspaper op-eds on American foreign policy, there is a word you will have encountered over and over again: credibility.

The United States, according to this theory, has to follow through on every threat and confront every adversary in order to maintain America's global credibility. If it fails to stand up to challengers in one place, then they will rise up everywhere, and American will find its global standing, and thus its power in the world, crumble.

This argument has dominated Washington especially in the three years since President Obama declined to bomb Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as punishment for using chemical weapons. Proponents of "credibility" say this matters for more than just Syria.

American allies came to distrust and drift away from US leadership, they argued. And American adversaries grew emboldened — including Russia's Vladimir Putin, whose subsequent invasion of Ukraine was said to be a direct result of weakened American credibility.

"Putin believes Obama does not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to him in Ukraine. He thinks Obama will talk tough and then look for a way out — just like he did with Assad," wrote Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen.

"Syria has become the graveyard of U.S. credibility," columnist Michael Gerson wrote in the same paper.

This theory is not exclusive to overheated op-eds. It is pervasive, almost to the point of consensus, in much of Washington's foreign policy community, including among many policy-makers — and has been that way longer than perhaps even proponents realize.

In 1950, as the United States considered whether or not to intervene in the Korean War, a CIA report urged the US to intervene so as to uphold its credibility far away in Europe:

A failure to draw the line would have seriously discredited the whole US policy of containment, gravely handicapping US efforts to maintain alliances and build political influence with the Western European powers and with other nations closely aligned with the US.

Secretary of State Dean Acheson agreed, fearing that European leaders would be in a "near-panic, as they watched to see whether the United States would act." If the US did not invade Korea, Acheson worried, Europe's frail post-war order could be at risk.

And this is not just an American belief. As former National Security Council official Philip Gordon recounted recently, France kept fighting in Algeria, long after the costly war appeared lost, partly out of fear of losing credibility.

"The credibility issue—if you pull out of Algeria, boy, you lose face, right? And so the argument was, stay in and keep a lid on it," Gordon told the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg.

But there is a problem with this theory of credibility: it does not appear to be real. Political scientists have investigated this theory over and over, and have repeatedly disproven it.

Yet the belief in credibility persists, dominating America's foreign policy debate, steering the United States toward military action abroad in pursuit of a strategic asset — the credibility of America's reputation — that turns out not to be real.

How did this idea become so entrenched in Washington, and why does it persist despite being repeatedly debunked? What does it mean to have so many of America's foreign policy discussions turn around an idea that is demonstrably false — and what can this tell us about how and why America intervenes abroad?

The credibility myth

When Americans talk about "credibility" in foreign policy, what they are usually describing is something that political scientists instead call reputational or reputation-based credibility.

In political science, "credibility" usually refers to specific promises or threats, and in this case the research does say that credibility is real. For example, if the US pledges to defend South Korea from a North Korean invasion, then it matters that the US convince both Koreas that this pledge is credible, for example by stationing US troops in South Korea.

That is the formal definition of credibility in foreign policy, it's real, and it matters. But when "credibility" is used colloquially, it typically refers to a very different kind of credibility, one based entirely in a country's or leader's reputation from its actions in other disputes or conflicts. (This article uses the colloquial definition of credibility, except where noted otherwise.)

Under this line of thinking, if the US fails to follow through on a threat or stand up to a challenger in one part of the world, then its allies and enemies globally will be more likely to conclude that all American threats are empty, and that America can be pushed around. If the US backed down once, it will back down again.

It's easy to see how people could be attracted to this idea, which puts complicated geo-politics in simple and familiar human terms. It encourages us to think of states as just like people.

But states are not people, and this theory, for all its appealing simplicity, is not correct. There is no evidence that America's allies or enemies change their behavior based on conclusions about America's reputation for credibility, or that such a form of reputation even exists in foreign policy.

"Do leaders assume that other leaders who have been irresolute in the past will be irresolute in the future and that, therefore, their threats are not credible?" the University of Washington's Jonathan Mercer wrote, in introducing his own research on this question.

"No; broad and deep evidence dispels that notion," Mercer concluded. "As the record shows, reputations do not matter."

A 1984 Yale University study, for example, examined dozens of cases from 1900 to 1980 to look for signs that, if a country stood down in one confrontation, it would face more challengers elsewhere. The answer was no: "deterrence success is not systematically associated ... with the defender's firmness or lack of it in previous crises."

Historians have also looked at incidents where the US thought its credibility was on the line and determined that we were simply mistaken.

Acheson's warning that the US had to invade Korea to reassure its European allies, for example, turned out to be wrong: British and French officials in fact worried the Americans were going to pull them into a far-away war.

During the Vietnam War, American officials could see that they were losing, but for years worried that withdrawing would communicate weakness to the Soviet Union, emboldening Moscow to test American commitments elsewhere. Even if Vietnam was lost, American credibility had to be defended.

As historian Ted Hopf has shown, the Americans could not have had it more wrong: Soviet leaders never reached any such conclusion, and in fact were puzzled as to why the US sacrificed so many lives for a war that was clearly lost.

If that's not enough evidence for you, try considering reputational credibility from the opposite point of view, and it starts to look more obviously ridiculous. Dartmouth's Darryl Press once pointed out to my colleague Dylan Matthews that Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev repeatedly threatened to eject the American-led forces occupying West Berlin, but he backed down. The US didn't consider him one iota less "credible" for this, and during the following year's Cuban Missile Crisis took his threats very seriously.

The idea of reputational credibility has also been debunked in the most well-known recent case: the notion that America's failure to bomb Syria in 2013 emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Proponents of reputational credibility took Putin's 2014 Ukraine invasions as vindication. Surely Putin only invaded because America had damaged its credibility in Syria, they argued. In their view, it showed why it is so crucial for the US to maintain its reputational credibility by never backing down from military interventions.

Julia Ioffe recently investigated this theory for The Atlantic, asking foreign policy officials and experts in Moscow whether there was merit to it. She seemed to reach the same conclusion as have many Russia analysts: that Putin invaded Ukraine for reasons specific to Ukraine. America's supposed reputation loss in Syria appeared to play no role. Some of Ioffe's sources seemed to not even understand the argument of how Syria and Ukraine would connect.

The credibility trap

You will notice something these incidents have in common. In every case, a belief in "credibility" pulls the United States toward fighting a war for the wrong reasons, or toward staying in a war longer than is worthwhile.

This mistaken belief has repeatedly helped to drive American military action abroad, Dartmouth's Jennifer Lind demonstrates in a new article in International Security Studies Forum.

"Indeed, from Korea, to Vietnam, to Bosnia, to Libya, to President Barack Obama’s 'red line’ in Syria, debates about U.S. intervention are thick with admonitions that ‘Our Credibility Is On The Line,'" Lind writes.

Read more

Think US gun violence is bad? A new study suggests it's even worse than we think.

German Lopez · Thursday, April 28, 2016, 10:10 am

America is already known for leading the developed world in gun violence. But a new study finds the problem may be even worse than we think.

The study, from economists Jillian Carr and Jennifer Doleac, looked at new ShotSpotter data, which uses high-tech audio sensors to report gunshots, in Oakland, California, and Washington, DC. It found that only 12 percent of gunfire incidents resulted in a 911 call to report gunshots, and only 2 to 7 percent of incidents resulted in a reported assault with a dangerous weapon.

In other words, shootings are tremendously underreported in the US.

Related America's gun problem, explained

One catch to the research: ShotSpotter is likely picking up some false positives. Past evaluations have suggested the technology has anywhere from 50 to 97 percent accuracy, although Carr and Doleac acknowledge more rigorous research is necessary. But even if the low range is right, there would still be a lot of unreported shootings.

It's also possible that many shootings go unreported because no one was injured or killed. It's hard to imagine, after all, that a death went completely unnoticed, and Carr and Doleac note that homicide is reported to and by police "with near-accuracy."

Still, Carr and Doleac say it's likely that injuries in some incidents went unreported. For example, in drug-related or gang shootings, "neither the victim or offender is interested in involving the police."

But it's important for policymakers to know about these nonlethal shootings. Public policy's goal isn't just to reduce lethal crime and violence, but to reduce crime and violence in general. Yet much of the research on crime and gun policy focuses on homicides. Carr and Doleac argue that focus may skew the results of policy research — and could mislead lawmakers who are trying to keep the public safe.

The findings have big implications for a lot of policy research

Currently, crime research generally relies on surveys and crime reports from law enforcement. More specifically, the research tends to focus on reports for homicides, since homicide reports tend to have the most accurate data. Researchers use these data sources to try to evaluate the effects of certain policies — if crime reports went down after a policy was implemented, it's presumed that the policy helped bring crime down (after some statistical checks).

But the ShotSpotter data suggests the traditional sources of crime research — the law enforcement reports — overlook a lot of crime. What's more, Carr and Doleac suggest that a drop in reports of crime may just mean that people are reporting fewer crimes even as it continues happening. So researchers using the traditional sources may have been picking up how policies affect reports of crime, not necessarily crime itself.

As an example, Carr and Doleac cited their previous study with ShotSpotter, which found that curfews lead to more gun violence. "That study would not have been possible with traditional crime measures, because curfews also affect reporting rates (more police scrutiny could increase reporting, while fewer witnesses out on the streets could decrease reporting)," they write. "Indeed, when [we] conduct the same analysis using reported crime and 911 call data, the estimates suggest the opposite (and incorrect) conclusion: crime reports and 911 calls fall when curfews are in effect."

Beyond the implications for policy research, the findings are simply alarming. It's hard to imagine that America's gun violence problem is actually worse than we think, given that the country, even after the big drop in crime over the past few decades, still fares much worse than its developed peers. But this study shows that may be the case. At the very least, we're not counting a lot of shootings as shootings.

Re-post of a favorite: The Bible on women's rights.

Re-post of a favorite: In support of a living minimum wage

Five OBG posts: Reliving the W years

Religiously speaking

Know your Bible - God's Word

Religion breeds contempt

Not quite as crazy as the rest

Arranged marriages 

Waldman's GunFail

Fifteen of the 53 guns discovered by TSA agents at airports across the country, during the week of Feb. 12-18, 2016.
Fifteen of the 53 guns discovered by TSA agents at airports across the country, during the week of Feb. 12-18, 2016.
It’s true that we’re still a bit behind in catching up with GunFAIL incidents. But does it really matter, when any longtime reader can tell you that these are all just basically the same stories over and over again? Now, that might lead you to ask why I bother continuing with these reports, but to me, a lot of the story is in the fact that people keep making the same basic mistakes over and over again, almost predictably and at a nearly constant rate.
So it shouldn’t surprise you that although this week’s compilation does not cover the week immediately past, during which Patrice Price was shot and killed by her son in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it nonetheless includes a report of a toddler getting hold of an unsecured gun in the family car, and shooting his mother with it. Because that’s actually the kind of thing that happens every few weeks. Keep in mind that we’retalking about February 20, a full two months ago, and two and a half weeks beforeJamie Gilt was shot by her son in Putnam County, Florida.
In other repeating news, we also have an incident in which a 20-year-old man accidentally discharged a gun during a FaceTime video call, killing his 17-year-old friend on February 19. That came just two months since the December death of a Miami man who accidentally shot and killed himself under similar circumstances. And there are just too many incidents to list that fit the pattern of this week’s bathroom GunFAIL.
Our title story this week comes, as is often the case, from Florida. Knowing that obeying gun-free zone signage is for suckers, a dad who surely abides by the goodkinds of laws decided to walk his daughter to school with a gun in the pocket of his shorts. Holsters, as we know, are for the kinds of eggheads and safety nerds who would probably be the type to notice things like gun-sized holes in their shorts pockets.Losers! Anyway, for unknown reasons, this dad apparently had no nerve sensitivity in the bodily area around which shorts pockets are generally found, so when his gun fell out of his pocket and onto the ground in the school yard, he took no notice of it. But another parent did. Problem solved, right? No. The custodian who came to retrieve the gun apparently thought a good way to see if it was a real gun or just a pellet gun would be to take it over to the side of the school, away from the kids but next to the giant fuel tanks, and pull the trigger. An all-around good showing for the Gunshine State that day.
I’ll wind things up with this gentle reminder, even though many of you who hate-read GunFAIL don’t need reminding: not all gun enthusiasts are rabid conservatives. There are, after all, many reasons to want to keep a gun around. And even though we like to think that maybe our liberal-leaning, gun-owning friends are smart enough to avoid most of the truly stupid kinds of accidents, if they’re spending lots of time around dangerous toys tools, some number of them are bound to catch a bullet sooner or later. And that’s what happened to Tennessee marriage equality hero Gwen Schablik. Gwen’s even made the pages of Daily Kos before for her activism and leadership. She seems to have recovered and is back in the game as an activist and LGBT community leader, but even making the smart choice to train at a professional facility didn’t keep her entirely out of harm’s way, as she was struck in the back of the head by a ricocheted bullet while shooting at a Knoxville gun range.
Anyway, there’s plenty more where those came from, all to be found below the fold.
  1. ST. PETERSBURG, FL, 2/14/16: It was a close call for one Bay area family Sunday evening when a 4-year-old boy found a loaded gun under his home and accidentally fired a shot. St. Petersburg police say they received a call about the incident at 5:15 PM, and arrived to the home in the 1700 block of Yale Street South shortly after. Detectives say the boy had been outside playing with a cat, and happened to find the gun when he followed the cat into the crawl space under the home. He then took the loaded gun onto the porch and fired one round into the ground.  Luckily, no one was hurt. The boy's grandmother and mother called police, then explained that the gun did not belong to them. Police say it's unclear how the loaded, unregistered revolver ended up under the family's home, but it's believed that someone may have discarded it or hidden it there.
  2. MADISON, CT, 2/14/16: An Old Saybrook man admitted Monday evening he falsely told police he was shot in downtown New Haven over the weekend when he had actually been shot in Madison, according to police. The man, 19, was hit in the pelvis. He has been treated and released, police spokesman Officer David Hartman said in a press release Tuesday. The man originally told police he was shot Sunday while with a group of friends in New Haven, Hartman said. The man said he and his friends were looking for their car when they were confronted by a group. The man said they heard a gunshot but that he didn’t realize he’d been hit until they found their car and were driving back to Old Saybrook. The man sought medical help, and New Haven officers met an ambulance transporting him on its arrival at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The man told officers he was out with friends at Toad’s Place on York Street, Hartman said. He said they parked a significant distance from the club, and when they tried to go home, they couldn’t find the car. He told police they used a locator app on a cell phone before they were confronted by the group. The man told police he realized he had been shot after he and his friends ran to the car. Hartman said New Haven officers were sent out to search for the crime scene in single-digit temperatures but couldn’t find evidence of one. He said 911 dispatchers didn’t receive any calls about gunfire downtown. Detectives spoke to the man Monday evening and he then told them he’d been accidentally shot at a friend’s home in Madison, Hartman said. New Haven police contacted Madison authorities about the shooting. It was not immediately clear whether the Old Saybrook man would face any charges in New Haven.
  3. NASHUA, NH, 2/14/16: A new security guard at the Tropical Point Restaurant and Bar on West Hollis Street is accused of pistol whipping a patron and firing off a gun inside the establishment on Sunday. Robinson Plasencia-Diaz, 42, of 41.5 Ash St., has been charged with reckless conduct, simple assault and carrying a concealed, loaded handgun without a license for the early morning incident. Police said Plasencia-Diaz, who has been working at the bar as a security guard for about six weeks, said his boss asked him to remove a patron around 12:30 AM on Sunday, however the man refused to leave. “Sorry, I feared for my safety, I thought he was going to hit me with a bottle so I shot,” Plasencia-Diaz told authorities, according to court documents on file at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division. He told police that he did not intend to use his firearm, but only removed it from its holster to use the hard material as a striking tool, adding the gun accidentally fired when he struck the man in the head with the weapon, according to court documents. The victim, Gilberth Pagan, 24, suffered a minor laceration to his face and a more severe laceration to his head during the alleged assault; he refused medical treatment. Pagan said he purchased a beer at the bar and was unexpectedly asked to leave by security, says court records. “Pagan advised that he verbally argued with security about leaving when he was punched by security. Pagan stated he was punched multiple times and that he fought back in an attempt to protect himself,” says court documents. An employee at the bar told authorities that Plasencia-Diaz appeared to be the aggressor during the incident, adding once the gun went off, she was escorted to the basement of the business for safety. The bar’s manager, Benny Lantigua, told police that he witnessed Plasencia-Diaz pull out a handgun, adding one round was fired shortly thereafter. “Lantigua advised that he had no idea that Plasencia-Diaz had a firearm on him, and that he was never told to carry one while at work,” says court records. Plasencia-Diaz was charged with carrying a loaded handgun without a license for allegedly concealing a Smith and Wesson semiautomatic handgun underneath his clothing. He has also been charged with simple assault for allegedly striking Pagan in the head with the pistol, and reckless conduct for allegedly placing the patrons at the bar in danger while discharging the firearm. Plasencia-Diaz is being held on $20,000 cash or surety bail pending a probable cause hearing on March 1.
  4. MEMPHIS, TN, 2/14/16: A man said he accidentally shot himself in the foot as he reached for his cellphone while inside an adult lingerie store on Valentine’s Day. Cortez Johnson, 27, was standing inside Christal’s on North Germantown Parkway when the gun went off, according to Memphis police. Johnson then left the store, but police noticed he was limping and dripping blood.
  5. SANDY SPRINGS, GA, 2/14/16: On Feb. 14, around 8 PM, a man on Spring Creek Lane called and said he accidentally shot a bullet through his ceiling. Fortunately it did not penetrate the apartment above whose residents were home, but said they did not hear a gunshot.
  6. KNIGHTDALE, NC, 2/14/16: An 11-year-old girl was injured in a shooting Sunday afternoon on Colchester Drive in Knightdale, according to Sheriff Donnie Harrison. According to authorities, the girl was shot at about 1:30 PM and was taken to WakeMed, where she was taken into surgery Sunday afternoon. The extent of her injuries was not immediately available. Harrison said that the girl did not live at the home where the shooting occurred, but was there visiting family. The incident was under investigation but Harrison said it did not appear as though any laws were violated in the shooting.
  7. BATTLE CREEK, MI, 2/14/16: Battle Creek police are investigating after a man said he accidentally shot his girlfriend, killing her. It happened around 1:30 PM Sunday at a residence on Highway Street between Cliff Street and Lathrop Avenue. The Battle Creek Police Department says one shot was fired, resulting in the death of a 24-year-old woman. BCPD says the woman and her 25-year-old boyfriend were in an upstairs bedroom of the home they shared when the shooting happened. The boyfriend told police that he was cleaning his handgun when it accidentally fired. The woman was shot once in the side of her abdomen. 911 was called quickly, BCPD said, but the woman died on the scene. The gun in question, a .45-caliber, is registered to the boyfriend. Police said there does not seem to be any history of domestic violence involving the pair. The boyfriend is cooperating with the investigation. The woman’s name was not released Sunday. There is no word yet on whether the boyfriend could face charges or what those charges would be.MORE: The woman who was accidentally killed while her boyfriend was cleaning his gun has been identified. Kayla Marie Babick, 24, died Sunday at a home on Highway Street. The boyfriend told police he was cleaning his gun when it accidentally fired. The gun is registered to him and police say he is cooperating with investigators. Police told FOX 17 Sunday that there doesn’t appear to be any history of documented domestic issues involving the couple at the home.
  8. OREGON TOWNSHIP, MI, 2/15/16: A man trying to protect his chickens from coyotes has died after shooting himself in a hunting accident, according to police. Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched around 10:18 AM Monday, Feb. 15, to Peters and Flint River roads near Columbiaville for a man found dead from a gunshot wound in the woods behind his home. Police said the 67-year-old male victim, whose name has not been released, had been coyote hunting during the morning hours of the past week behind his home. The man had been hearing coyotes and was concerned they could pose a threat to his chickens, according to police. The man was hunting alone Monday morning with a metal-frame treestand about 15 feet above the ground, according to police. The man was on the ladder portion of the stand with a loaded shotgun in his hands when he and the gun fell. Police said the shotgun discharged, striking the victim. He was pronounced dead at the scene after family members discovered his body after hearing a gunshot and not being able to contact the victim on his phone. The case remains under investigation, but foul play is not suspected.
  9. BULLOCH CO., GA, 2/15/16: We’re learning more about the death of Bulloch County woman Jessica Bassfield. Her husband, Bryan Bassfield, is behind bars and facing murder and aggravated assault charges. On Monday, deputies responded to the couple's home on Highway 301 for a report of a shooting. They found Jessica dead of a gunshot wound. Bassfield told authorities he pointed a gun at his wife and it accidentally fired.  Investigators tell us the felony murder charge does not require intent to kill. "He gave investigators certain details and of course gave it from his perspective. But there were certain inconsistencies in the story and with the forensic evidence,” said Bulloch Co. Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jared Akins. Bassfield remains in jail waiting for a bond hearing in Superior Court.
  10. THE ACREAGE, FL, 2/15/16: A man in the Acreage was wounded Monday afternoon in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reports. The man shot himself in the leg, sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera said. The shooting occurred just before 3:30 PM in the 15100 block of Temple Boulevard. No other details were immediately available.
  11. COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, 2/15/16: A woman accused of shooting an aggressive dog in her house also faces charges for accidentally shooting her boyfriend, according to Colorado Springs police. Beatrice Dallas shot at a dog in her home around 7:30 PM Monday to prevent it from attacking another dog when she also hit her boyfriend in the leg, police said. She was cited with reckless endangerment, police said. The dog died. The man was treated for minor injuries, police said. Multiple dogs were living with the couple in their home in the 800 block of Hoosier Drive, police said. Some of the dogs were known to be aggressive. The Humane Society is investigating, police said.
  12. SALEM, OR, 2/15/16: A prison guard accidentally shot himself in the thigh Monday at the Oregon State Penitentiary, a spokesperson told KATU News. The guard is at home and recovering from the injury. The incident happened around 1 PM Monday, and was initially reported as a "negligent shooting" involving a leg wound. Witnesses said emergency crews used a fire truck ladder to help get the guard down from a tower.
  13. VANCOUVER, WA, 2/16/16: No one was hurt when an east Vancouver resident’s firearm discharged accidentally Tuesday evening, sending a bullet through a wall and into a neighbor’s apartment. Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Patrick Johns said a woman examining her gun, which she thought was unloaded, accidentally fired a round at about 6:30 PM. The bullet shot through walls in her apartment and into a neighboring unit in the 13000 block of Southeast 20th Circle, Johns said. He said it seemed to responding officers that the woman had little experience with firearms or formal weapons training. Johns said officers plan to file a report of an unlawful firearm discharge within city limits, but whether that results in any citation or fine will be up to the prosecutor. “Thankfully, it just went into some drywall,” he said. “It didn’t hit anybody or do any major damage.”
  14. KNOXVILLE, TN, 2/16/16: A man is recovering after police say he accidentally shot himself in a workplace bathroom. Emergency responders were called shortly before 5 PM Tuesday to the offices of Cityview Magazine, 6812 Baum Drive, to find the victim suffering from a gunshot wound to his leg, according to the Knoxville Police Department. Bryan Starmer, 45, was returning his personal firearm to its holster after a visit to the bathroom when he shot himself, according to KPD Lt. Chris McCarter. "The round went right through the holster," McCarter said. Starmer, the magazine's creative director, was taken by ambulance to Parkwest Medical Center with what authorities described as nonlife-threatening injuries. Starmer has a state permit to carry a weapon, police said.
  15. LUBBOCK, TX, 2/16/16: A 5-year-old boy is dead after what was reported as an accidental shooting Tuesday evening in South Lubbock. The shooting was reported just after 6 PM at a house in the 2500 block of 71st Street near Canton Avenue, according to Lubbock police. The child taken to Covenant Women’s and Children’s hospital, where doctors tried to revive him but he was later pronounced dead, said Lubbock police Sgt. Jason Lewis. There were two children and two adults in the house at the time of the shooting, Lewis said. No other injuries were reported. The child’s grandparents were among the first family members to arrive at the hospital after the child. The identity of the two adults in the house at the time of the shooting was not immediately clear. A neighbor told A-J Media she saw children playing in the yard in front of the house earlier in the afternoon before she left to run errands. When she returned, she could not re-enter her home, as the area was cordoned off by police.
  16. CANTON, OH, 2/16/16: Police say a convicted felon was cleaning his gun at home in one of the city’s largest apartment complexes late Tuesday night when the gun went off, striking a woman in another apartment in the chest. They arrested Nathaniel P. Webb II, 43, who lives in the Skyline Terrace apartment complex at 928 Alan Page Dr. SE, Apt. 7, at 12:01 AM Wednesday on felony charges of improper discharge of a weapon into a habitation and having weapons under disability, Stark County Jail records said. Stark County court records show he went to prison in 2001 for felonious assault, failure to comply with police and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He is accused of shooting his downstairs neighbor accidentally, according to the jail records. Lt. James Cole of the police department’s patrol division said a man called police late Tuesday night saying that he heard a loud bang and then hung up on dispatchers several times. When police went to investigate, they found a bullet had come through the ceiling from Apartment 7 into Apartment 3. Police found the 53-year-old woman who lives there with a single gunshot wound to the chest. Cole said the bullet apparently traveled down into her abdomen. She was taken to Aultman Hospital where, during surgery, the bullet was removed from her stomach, he said. Police believe the bullet came from a 9mm handgun that Webb was cleaning when it accidentally discharged. Investigators later found the point where the bullet had gone through Webb’s floor and then the woman’s ceiling before striking her, Cole said. Although the woman’s condition was not available early Wednesday, she was in stable condition when officers left the hospital after the surgery, the lieutenant said. Webb remained in the jail early Wednesday, held in lieu of $50,000 bond pending a Canton Municipal Court hearing.
  17. NORTH ROYALTON, OH, 2/16/16: The lawyer representing a North Royalton man said her client accidentally shot and killed his 19-year-old girlfriend while playing with a gun. Jeffrey Greiner, 25, made his first court appearance Thursday in Parma Municipal Court. He is charged with murder in the death of Christal Shaver. Members of Shaver's family held pictures of her during the hearing. Phyllis Shaver, the victim's mother, sobbed and hugged Christal's favorite stuffed animal. "This is a tragic accident," court-appointed attorney Kelly Zacharias said. "[Greiner] was unfortunately playing around with a gun, and he didn't realize that the clip was there." Judge Deanna O'Donnell set a $250,000 bond. Greiner faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted, the judge said. Police responded to a 911 call about a woman shot Tuesday at Greiner's Cove Drive condominium. Greiner told a 911 dispatcher that someone had fired the fatal shot through an open sliding glass door, and the suspect drove away in a silver four-door Sedan. First responders found Shaver with a single gunshot wound in her throat. She was taken to Southwest General Hospital in Middleburg Heights where she was pronounced dead.
  18. JOLIET, IL, 2/16/16: An ex-convict accidentally shot his girlfriend in the leg while they were driving around on the city’s west side Tuesday afternoon, then led the cops on a wild chase that ended with his capture on Bluff Street, police said. The law was first tipped off to a supposed fight on the corner of Jefferson Street and Midland Avenue about 3:45 PM. The anonymous caller said one of the combatants was armed with a handgun and that he made his getaway in a red Dodge station wagon. Officers located the car heading east on Campbell Street near Midland and signaled for the driver to pull over. But instead of stopping, the car sped off. Officers pursued the station wagon over to Bluff Street near Bridge Street. The driver — 21-year-old Jerry Moffett — stopped there, jumped out and made a run for it, police said. Moffett was apprehended a short time later and a .38-caliber revolver was found nearby. A young woman with a gunshot wound to her leg was sitting in the passenger seat of the station wagon, police said. The woman reportedly explained that she she owns the car, Moffett is her boyfriend and he inadvertently shot her. After the shooting, they switched seats so he could drive her to the hospital. Curiously, Moffett was driving away from nearby Presence St. Joseph Medical Center when officers spotted him near Campbell and Midland, police said. Moffett reportedly told officers he fled because he is still on parole and did not want to go back to jail. He also does not have a driver’s license, police said. Moffett went on to speculate that the caller who reported the supposed fight was a “guy he had problems with,” and claimed that this same man had been following him shortly before the accidental shooting. Moffett was released from prison less than three months ago. He did time for possessing a firearm as a gang member.
  19. ONEONTA, AL, 2/16/16: What started out as a meeting to buy a gun led to an accidental shooting and a drug arrest last week. Two couples met in the parking lot of China Wok in Oneonta on Feb. 16, looking to make a deal on the purchase of a handgun. Unfortunately, the gun discharged and the bullet went through the front seat, causing serious but not life-threatening injuries to a female passenger.
  20. HOMOSASSA, FL, 2/17/16: "You don't think it's going to happen at an elementary school so it was a shock," said Stefanie Young, a parent at Rock Crusher Elementary School. Parents are concerned after learning a loaded gun was found early Wednesday on the campus of Rock Crusher Elementary after a parent accidentally dropped the firearm, and did not know it happened. Here's what the Citrus County Sheriff's Office says happened. A parent first spotted the weapon during morning YMCA drop-off and she notified staff. Then, a custodian secured the weapon thinking it was a pellet gun. He tried to unload the ammunition, and accidentally fired one round. "He fired a shot, one shot into the ground," said Lindsay Blair, spokeswoman with the sheriff's office. Detectives checked surveillance video and checked the weapon's serial number, and determined it belong to Roy Caffera of Crystal River. He has a concealed carry permit and no criminal history, but did not realize his weapon accidentally fell out of his shorts through a torn pocket while walking his child into the before school care program. Investigators said the weapon was on the ground for five minutes before being found. The weapon was dangerously close to massive fuel tanks. "Yeah, that could have been a bigger issue absolutely," said Mike Mullen, assistant superintendent with Citrus schools. The sheriff's office identified the gun as a Ruger 380. Detectives believe it's likely someone owned the gun legally, but accidentally dropped it while coming and going from the school. "We sent detectives over here to try and look at surveillance video to see who may have left the gun accidentally who may have set it down accidentally dropping off students," said Blair. The school district says all campuses are gun-free zones and there will be districtwide training on how to handle a weapon if one is found in the future. "What we would have liked to see happen is the area secured and law enforcement come, and law enforcement make that determination. We will make sure we emphasize that in training opportunities with all of our staff," said Mullen. Parents and staff are just thankful no one was hurt. "We don't even know where it came from so once we find out more we'll know more how we feel," said Young. The case is being referred to the State Attorney's Office for review.
  21. SUFFOLK, VA, 2/17/16: A 3-year-old boy was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital after an accidental shooting tonight. Suffolk police said it occurred in the 200 block of Jonathans Way in the Applewood Farms neighborhood and authorities were notified around 7:34 PM. The boy received emergency medical assessment and treatment from Suffolk Fire and Rescue personnel. Police said the investigation is ongoing and no further details are available at this time.MORE: A toddler who was injured when he accidentally fired a gun at himself Wednesday night remains in Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters and is expected to recover. The boy was home in the 200 block of Jonathans Way with his mother an another child, age 2, when he found the gun and shot himself, a city news release says. He was wounded in his upper shoulder. The boy was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and transferred to the children’s hospital. No other details were released, but charges are pending in the case, the release says.
  22. WASILLA, AK, 2/17/16: A Wasilla man was wounded Wednesday in an accidental shooting, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers received a call just after 8:30 AM that the man had been shot at his home. The man was reportedly handling a handgun while under the influence, and shot himself in the leg. He was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The case has been passed on to prosecutors for a possible weapons misconduct charge.
  23. RUTHERFORD CO., SC, 2/17/16: Deputies are searching for two men they believe were involved in a home invasion in Cherokee County. Sheriff Steve Mueller said deputies were called to a reported home invasion on East Julie Court in Chesnee on Feb. 17. Deputies are also investigating to see if an incident in Rutherford County is connected to the home invasion. Deputies said on Feb. 17 a man was treated at a hospital in Rutherford County for a gunshot wound in the hand. Investigators said the man stated that he accidentally shot himself in the hand while in Cherokee County at a friend's house.
  24. QUEENSBURY, NY, 2/17/16: A Queensbury man was recovering at Albany Medical Center on Friday after accidentally shooting himself while working on a handgun at his home Wednesday night, officials said. The man was identified as Jay Kennedy of Twicwood Lane, according to police. He shot himself in the abdomen with a 9mm handgun when removing part of its grip to replace it, according to the Warren County Sheriff's Office. He was at the home by himself, and called 911 after the accident. “We are investigating an accidental self-inflicted shooting that occurred Wednesday night,” sheriff's Lt. Steve Stockdale said. Kennedy underwent surgery and remained in the hospital as of early Friday and was expected to survive the injury. He is a state corrections officer who has a permit for the handgun.
  25. FITCHBURG, MA, 2/17/16: A city teenager was arrested in late February in connection with what a police spokesman said was an "accidental" shooting that left another teenager with a minor gunshot wound on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Carlos Lago, 18, of 76 Leighton St., was charged on Feb. 26 with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling and carrying a firearm without an FID card as a result of the shooting that occurred on Beech Street, said police Capt. Steven Giannini. He said Lago accidentally shot the victim, a 16-year-old boy, at 31 Beech St. at about 1:30 PM with a rifle that was recovered by police. The teenager, said Giannini, was released from a local hospital after being treated for the minor wound. "They were just hanging out and handling the weapon" when it went off, said Giannini, who added that police believe the age and condition of the rifle may have contributed to it going off. In addition to Lago being arrested, Rodolfo Mercado, 22, who lives at 31 Beech St., was cited for the felonious misleading of a police investigation. Giannini said Mercado was not arrested but has been summonsed to court to hear the single charge. Lago's bail information was not immediately available.
  26. PAINESVILLE, OH, 2/17/16: Painesville police will seek charges against a 17-year-old boy who lied to investigators about how he ended up shot in the back, Chief Anthony Powalie said in a news release. The boy told police he was struck when someone inside a car opened fire about 2:30 PM Wednesday near Elm and Storrs streets. The car, which had three people inside, drove away, he told police. "We knew from the beginning that the victim's account was not making sense," Powalie said. Investigators learned the boy was shot inside a home on Storrs Street while he and two friends were handling a gun. The boy was taken to Tri-Point Hospital and has since been released. It is unclear what charges police will seek. A message left for Powalie Monday afternoon was not immediately returned.
  27. CHICAGO, IL, 2/17/16: A 20-year-old woman was killed when a gun “accidentally discharged” Wednesday night in the South Side Auburn Gresham neighborhood. Tiana Brown was in the 7800 block of South Honore about 10 PM when someone was showing her a weapon that “accidentally discharged” and struck her in the head, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Brown, of the 10200 block of Camden Lane in Bridgeview, was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:50 PM, according to the medical examiner’s office. Police said the shooting was an accident, but an autopsy Thursday ruled her death a homicide. No one was in custody as of Thursday afternoon, police said.
  28. CHICAGO, IL, 2/18/16: A teenager walked into a North Side hospital Thursday afternoon with a gunshot wound to the hand. At 5:22 PM, the 16-year-old walked into Weiss Memorial Hospital and told officials that he was shot in the 800 block of West Ainslie Street, according to preliminary information from Chicago Police. He suffered a gunshot wound to the hand and was listed in good condition, police said. A police source said the teenager, who is being uncooperative, is a documented gang member and the gunshot wound is most likely self-inflicted.
  29. JUPITER, FL, 2/18/16: The retired firefighter’s condition is unknown right now. He remains here, at St. Mary’s Medical Center surrounded by family and friends. This is Tom Phillips. He retired in 2011 as District Chief of Palm Beach County Rescue. A close friend says he was cleaning his personal gun at home when it fell and accidentally fired. This happened at Phillips’ home in the 14000 block of 69th Drive North in the Palm Beach Country Estates development. Phillips suffered a gunshot wound to the stomach. He was airlifted to the hospital. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies were at the scene for hours. Crime scene technicians took photos and gathered evidence. A spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office confirms that this was an accidental shooting.
  30. ROME, GA, 2/18/16: A Rome man was in jail without bond Thursday after police said he fired six to eight shots from his back porch, unintentionally hitting a house on the next street, reports stated. According to Floyd County Jail reports and Rome police officer Brandon Pledger: Kevin Joseph Degraft, 32, of 1313 Magnolia Ave., had been drinking Thursday afternoon and then fired several shots from his back porch. Two of those shots ended up hitting a house on Wood Creek Way, causing over $500 in damages and narrowly missing a small child. Pledger said Degraft told police that he was shooting up into the air. “It looks like he was shooting straight to me,” Pledger said. Degraft is charged with second-degree criminal damage to property, reckless conduct, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharging a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.
  31. CARLSBAD, NM, 2/18/16: Two men are being treated for gunshot wounds after a dispute turned violent Thursday morning at a local motel. According to the Carlsbad Police Department, 24-year-old Rodney Ryan Lara allegedly shot a man, who taunted him, in the back and during the incident accidentally shot his friend, as well, who was attempting to break up the fight. The incident began at the bar area of the Econolodge Motel, on National Parks Highway, with a verbal argument, according to Sgt. Allen Sanchez. Sanchez said in a news release that the verbal argument and taunting led Lara to retrieve a gun from his hotel room and culminated with shots fired at around 1 AM near hotel rooms occupied by the men. "One of the men struck Lara in the face, at which point Lara shoots his gun and accidentally shoots his friend in the hip area who was trying to break up the fight. Lara then raises the gun and shoots the man who struck him in the face," said Sanchez in the news release. Both victims, a 39-year-old man from Carlsbad and a 29-year-old man from Andrews, Texas are being treated in Lubbock for their wounds, Sanchez said. Lara, of Andrews, Texas, has been arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and negligent use of a firearm.
  32. NEW YORK, NY, 2/18/16: First came the rat — and then, the rat-a-tat-tat. A Harlem postal cop, startled early Thursday by a rambling rodent outside the W. 125th St. post office, accidentally fired his gun while investigating a building alarm, sources said. Both the rat and U.S. Postal Service Inspector Neville Harper escaped injury in the 12:35 AM shooting that came after the rodent bolted suddenly from a pile of garbage, the sources said. Harper was doing a perimeter search of the building with his service revolver drawn when the rat appeared and the gun went off, sources said. “The incident is currently under investigation, and no further details will be released,” said postal spokeswoman Donna Harris. There are 1,600 inspectors in the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, an agency founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1772. The agency enforces more than 2,000 federal laws, and investigates anything from mailbombs to bogus stamps to identity theft.
  33. BATON ROUGE, LA, 2/18/16: Police arrested a 16-year-old boy Thursday after he was accused of accidentally shooting his niece in the head and sending her to the hospital, where she remained in critical condition late Thursday. The Broadmoor High junior was rushed to the hospital from her Brady Street house after another relative heard the gunshot and found her lying on the kitchen floor. Baton Rouge police were called out about 5 PM to the house in the 3800 block of Brady Street, which backs up to Dalton Elementary. Howard Calhoun, who is a brother-in-law to the shooter and an uncle to the victim, said his niece was in a coma at the hospital. Sitting among a cluster of family members on the porch of their neighbor’s house Thursday evening, Calhoun recounted what happened. “I was in my room, and I heard a shot,” Calhoun said. “I came in when he came out. He said, ‘I shot my niece! I shot my niece!’ I looked in the kitchen, and she was laying on the floor.” Calhoun said his brother-in-law was visiting the family that day and was alone in the kitchen with his niece when the shooting took place. Calhoun said he had warned his brother-in-law not to bring a gun around and that no one knew he had brought one to the house until they heard the gunshot. “I’ve gotten onto him before about playing with guns because I’ve got too many kids running around here,” Calhoun said. Police arrested the shooter, whose identity was not released, later that evening after detectives concluded the teenager had accidentally shot the girl while he was playing with a gun, according to a Baton Rouge Police Department news release. Police don’t know how the shooter obtained the gun, the release says. Calhoun said his brother-in-law would not have shot his niece on purpose. Next-door neighbor Jimmy Jackson said he heard the gunshot while he was sitting in his truck getting ready to leave his house. “A guy ran through there,” Jackson said, pointing toward his yard, “and up the street.” He got out to ask the family what had happened, and they told him the girl had been shot, Jackson said. Jackson, who had moved to his house two months ago, said he watched EMS personnel carry the girl out on a stretcher. Jackson said he did not hear any argument or fighting before the gunshot resounded. Police booked the shooter into East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Detention on one count each of negligent injuring and illegal possession of a firearm by a juvenile, the release says. “It’s just a sad situation,” Jackson said, who added it’s uncommon to hear gunshots in the neighborhood. The girl is one of four siblings. Several of the victim’s family members described her as a jolly child.Update: The 16-year-old victim is brain dead, the family has reportedly told WBRZ. MORE: Police confirmed the death of a 16-year-old  girl shot in the head Thursday. A spokesperson for Baton Rouge Police confirmed that Darneisha Williams died Saturday afternoon.
  34. BATON ROUGE, LA, 2/19/16: Baton Rouge Police arrested Byron Devore, 20, of 2111 Tennessee Street, for allegedly shooting and killing Gerald Levi, 17, of 2249 Missouri Street, Friday night around 9:40 PM, said Baton Rouge Police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely. Devore was allegedly holding a gun while facetiming on his cell phone when the gun accidentally shot Levi in the head on Tennessee Street, McKneely said. Devore was charged with negligent homicide and booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, McKneely said.
  35. COLONIE, NY, 2/19/16: A man in Colonie is facing charges Friday morning after police say his gun accidentally went off sending a bullet into his neighbor’s headboard attached to a bed. Investigators say Shawn Szczepkowski was cleaning his pistol when it went off, sending the bullet through his wall and into the neighbors bedroom. It hit the headboard and fell into the trash while someone was in the bed. The gun owner was charged with reckless endangerment and released on an appearance ticket.
  36. BISMARCK, ND, 2/19/16: A 20 year old man shot a rifle through his apartment, that went through his bedroom, into his roommates bedroom, and then into a neighboring apartment.
    Bismarck Police say they were contacted by the man about 5:30 PM on Friday. The man said he discharged his rifle after an unknown man entered his apartment. He gave Police a description of the man who he said fled his apartment. After Police searched and found no trace of the suspect, the man admitted to Police he lied. The man then told police he accidentally fired his rifle. The man could face charges of discharging a firearm in city limits.
  37. JACKSON, MS, 2/19/16: According to Jackson police, an individual shot himself or herself in the foot early this morning. The extent of injuries are unknown at this time. This happened at the Select Inn on I-55 Frontage Road this morning. There is no word on that person's identity or the extent of injuries.
  38. KNOXVILLE, TN, 2/20/16: The Knox County Sheriff's Office is investigating after a 34 year old Knoxville woman was accidentally hit in the back of the head by what appears to be a ricocheted bullet Saturday afternoon. The incident happened at a West Knox County shooting range. Gwen Schablik, 34, was hit in the back of the head and transported by Rural Metro to UT Medical Center where she is expected to make a full recovery. The incident occurred at TACSOG Armory and Range located at 10737 Dutchtown Road. The Major Crimes Unit of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is reviewing video surveillance to determine where the round may have originated. No foul play is suspected and this appears to be an accident.
  39. KENTWOOD, MI, 2/20/16: A 26-year-old woman is expected to recover after her 3-year-old child accidentally discharged a gun, striking her in the head. The shooting happened at a home in the 5700 block of East Grove Drive SE in Kentwood, near 60th Street and East Paris Avenue. Police and rescuers were called to the home about 2:40 PM Saturday, Feb. 20. Few details were immediately available, but ambulance workers reported the woman was shot in the back of the head. She was conscious and talking with rescuers. She was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth hospital. Kentwood police officers and a Kent County sheriff's deputy evidence technician were at the home Saturday afternoon. They seemed to be focusing attention on the garage area of the home as they collected evidence. Police also searched in a side yard. Kentwood police Sgt. Stephanie Morningstar could not provide other details at the scene Saturday. MORE: The owner of the gun a toddler found and fired at his mother says the incident was “a total accident.” Jacob Hanson, 28, is a married father of two young boys and a gun owner who likes to drive around with his gun in the car. Hanson’s 3-year-old son allegedly grabbed the 9 mm subcompact handgun out of the driver’s side compartment car and squeezed off a shot that hit his mother in the back of the head, according to police. The father reportedly told police that the gun jammed before another shot could be fired. The incident happened in the middle of the day on Feb. 20 at the family’s home near East Paris Avenue and 60th Street SE. According to the Kentwood police report obtained by 24 Hour News 8, Hanson said he often travels with pistol in the car, but secures the weapon in a holster before placing it in a gun safe along with several other weapons. However, Hanson told police on Feb. 20 he was in a hurry to visit neighbors who were planning to sell their home and in his haste, he left his gun in the Chevrolet Traverse, the report states. Michele Hanson was spending her Saturday cleaning the SUV with her young son when the toddler discovered the gun and pulled the trigger. She told police she thought something had fallen and hit her in the head, according to the report. The 26-year-old mother said she looked up, saw her child holding the gun and began screaming. Neighbors heard the shot and the screams and ran to the home where they tell police they saw the mom lying in the driveway bleeding as Jacob Hanson unloaded the weapon and threw it aside. Michele Hanson was not seriously injured and her husband said she was back working within a few days. He did not want to speak on the record with 24 Hour News 8 Friday. Chief Assistant Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker confirmed that Hanson had the proper permits for his gun and he said he determined no laws were broken.
  40. SNOWVILLE, UT, 2/20/16: A 27-year-old man was accidentally shot and killed by his father Saturday while the two were reportedly target shooting, according to the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office. About 4 PM, a father and son were shooting rifles in a remote area off state Route 30, about 20 miles west of Snowville. "Somehow the 27-year-old son got into his father's line of fire and was struck in the chest with a single round. He died at the scene," according to Sheriff's Chief Deputy Dale Ward. Ward said the investigation was still in its early stages on Saturday and was continuing.
  41. ALBEMARLE, NC, 2/20/16: An Albemarle man suffered a gunshot wound Saturday after his handgun discharged while in the restroom at the Handi-Mart. Edmund M. Bachner, 24, was struck by a bullet in the lower leg at 2:21 PM and taken to Stanly Regional Medical Center for treatment, according to Albemarle police. Bachner was carrying an older-style .22-caliber revolver at the time of the mishap in the Burleson Square convenience store/restaurant, Capt. David Dulin said. “Apparently when he dropped his pants the revolver fell out of its holster and hit the floor on the revolver’s hammer, causing it to discharge,” Dulin said. The restrooms are located on the restaurant side of the building. Few customers were inside the restaurant at the time of the shooting, since it was after the lunch hour, said Myra Whitley, restaurant manager. “It sounded like the commode lid slammed shut,” Whitley said. “It really wasn’t that loud.” Once Bachner exited he told patrons he had accidentally shot himself, she added.
  42. SOUTHBRIDGE, MA, 2/20/16: A couple pleaded not guilty Monday in Dudley District Court to charges they allegedly improperly stored firearms, after police rushed to their apartment Saturday after a houseguest fired a round into the floor after being told the weapon had been emptied, authorities said. Kenneth P. Szlyk, 28, of 555 Worcester St., Apt. 310, was charged with four counts of possessing large capacity firearms, three counts of improper storage of a firearm, witness intimidation and disturbing the peace. His girlfriend, Ashleigh L. Defries, 27, of the same address, was charged with three counts of improper storage of a firearm, witness intimidation and disturbing the peace. They posted $200 bail and were ordered to return for pretrial hearings on April 12. According to the police report, the two were charged because a .38 revolver, .380 semiautomatic and a 12-gauge shotgun were not accounted for when police checked Mr. Szlyk’s gun safe and the status of his license to carry. Police said they went to unit 310 at Laurel Ridge Apartments with their guns drawn. Ms. Defries opened the door. Police ordered everyone to the floor. A shotgun with four rounds was in plain view, police said. The houseguest told police he fired a shot with a revolver at the floor after being told by Mr. Szylk it was empty. The downstairs tenant was unharmed.
  43. BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, OH, 2/20/16: On Feb. 20, police were dispatched to Stonewall Range after a customer accidentally shot himself in the foot. An arriving offer talked to the victim, who said when he was holstering his weapon when the gun discharged. An ambulance took the man to the hospital.
  44. DENVER, PA, 2/20/16: A Downingtown man has been cited for accidentally shooting another hunter at a shooting preserve near Denver on Feb. 20. The victim, Dennis Ubert, 56, of Pottstown, was struck just below the jaw by a lone pellet when hunter Adam George, 34, fired a shotgun at a flushed quail. The accident happened at Brandywine Wing and Shot on Lauschtown Road in Brecknock Township, according to Greg Graham, a Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer for northeastern Lancaster County. The two hunters had been slotted to hunt together at the preserve but were not friends, Graham said. The pellet missed the victim’s carotid artery in his neck by a fraction of an inch, Graham said. Instead, it lodged in the saliva gland. Ubert was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to another and was hospitalized for a day. He continues to have discomfort from the wound, Graham said. Luckily, Graham said, George was using up leftover steel shot shotgun shells and was not using lead pellets typically used to hunt upland game birds such as quail. If the pellet had been lead, it would likely have penetrated deeper, Graham said. Depending on the weight of steel shot used, a shotgun shell in size 7 would contain between 316 and 685 pellets. George said the lone pellet that struck his hunting companion had ricocheted into him. But Graham said his investigation showed the victim was in the direct line of fire, about 32 yards away. George was issued a citation for a summary offense of shooting at or causing injury to a human being. The violation of Pennsylvania game laws carries a fine of $1,000 to $1,500 and jail time of up to 90 days. A hearing on the violation, before a district justice, has not yet been set. Both George and Ubert reported the shooting to the Game Commission, as required by law, Graham said. George “took full responsibility” for the accident and has been paying Ubert’s medical bills, Graham said. “Hunting is a very regulated activity and comes with a lot of responsibility.”
  45. SAN DIEGO, CA, 2/20/16: A police officer who fatally shot a homeless mentally ill man in the Midway District a year ago was involved in an accidental shooting in February, San Diego police said Tuesday. On February 20, Officer Neal Browder “was involved in an accidental discharge of his firearm during the course of his police duties,” according to a statement from Lt. Scott Wahl. A thorough investigation was initiated. No details were released. The incident happened after Browder was cleared by the District Attorney’s Office after he shot and killed 42-year-old Fridoon Nehad after midnight on April 30, 2015. Browder had also participated in a required Critical Incident Stress Debriefing led by a police psychologist. In December, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis released surveillance video of the fatal shooting. Dumanis said she decided to make portions of the video public since neither the city of San Diego nor Mayor Kevin Faulconer planned to appeal U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes’ ruling to release the footage. The judge’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the family of Nehad. Browder, who was mistakenly informed that the mentally ill man had a knife, shot Nehad as he walked toward the officer’s car in an alley. As it turned out, Nehad was holding a metallic pen. Browder fired one shot just 32 seconds after pulling up to the scene. Nehad was 17 feet from the officer when he was shot. The officer said later that he thought Nehad was going to stab him, according to Dumanis. Everyone who came into contact with Nehad that night — including people inside a bookstore, a bouncer at a nearby strip club and three witnesses — thought he had a knife, according to the county’s top prosecutor.