Man Wearing Bulletproof Vest Says “Shoot Me” And Dies From Gunshot Wound

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

First Bulletproof Vest TestAn old fortune cookie meme reads: “A fool and his wearing of body-armor is soon departed.” But apparently this wisdom did not make it to Honea Path, SC in time where Blake Wardell and some friends were inside a garage where he found a bulletproof vest.

According to, wait for it….Deputy Coroner Don McGowan, Blake asked someone to shoot him. Not wanting to miss such an opportunity another guest fired a small caliber firearm at him. The bullet missed the Kevlar panel of the vest and struck Blake in the heart, killing him.

But the intrigue was not about to stop there.

Taylor Ann Kelly
Taylor Kelly

Allegedly after the shooting of Blake, Taylor Ann Kelly had told sheriff’s investigators she was responsible for the shooting. She was then arrested and charged with Involuntary Manslaughter. But according to sheriff’s deputies the next day she admitted that she lied about the shooting and then provided a statement that corroborated other evidence found at the scene.

Timothy Fisher
Timothy Fisher

Afterward, evidence allegedly implicated Timothy Fisher and he is now the one charged with Involuntary Manslaughter. Taylor’s charge was amended to Accessory After the Fact of a Felony.

One has to wonder if having a spare bulletproof vest lying around the garage could be considered an attractive nuisance.


By Darren Smith


Mandarin Dragon Restaurant, Gorst, Washington. Cookie Retrieved April 1, 1986

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

48 thoughts on “Man Wearing Bulletproof Vest Says “Shoot Me” And Dies From Gunshot Wound”

  1. Traveling Limey

    Often times it is the case where an “accident” claim ends up being a cover-up for an intentional homicide. It’s the old “and then the gun went off. I don’t know how” claim.

    One of the strangest ones that happened where I worked, though I wasn’t involved as it was another department’s case, where these two gangbangers were in a mobile home and suddenly it went bad. One got shot.

    The victim banger took a shotgun blast right to the guts. It was a close shot, probably only a few feet away. So close in-fact the plastic wadding was sticking out of him and had not even fanned out. Luckily for him it was bird shot so he didn’t die, but he was layed open pretty badly.

    Evidence was there that it was an intentional shooting but the victim banger insisted it was “an accident”. Right, it’s an accident that you point a loaded shotgun at someone in their house and fire. We all thought it was just another example of that code of silence those guys maintain. But, there wasn’t really anything we could do about it since the victim didn’t want to press charges.

  2. Paul. In this case someone simply occupying a building can be charged with dangerous exhibitions. It does not necessarily mean someone with title or leaseholder to the building. The case law in WA is that occupant does not have to be an owner but can be anyone inside. But I see your interpretation here.

  3. Yeah, its either a dumb accident ready for redneck video, or a cover-up murder. No sense arresting for stupidity or half the police forces of America should arrest the other half. Seems the dummy holding the vest didn’t have it on properly. A lot of silly things said about the NRA by misleadingly named ‘liberals’ who thing freedom is found in big government smothering you.

  4. Tyger

    There were two charges ultimately filed in this case. Timothy was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter and Taylor was charged with Accessory After the Fact of a Felony. The two charges essentally are as follows:

    Involuntary Manslaughter refers that through negligence or recklessness, a person caused the death of another. It is different from the various degree of Murder because there is no intent to cause serious bodily injury or death. Some states have Extreme Indifference to Life clauses in their Murder statutes however that are elements of Murder crimes.

    There is a gray area involved in this as you mentioned with people acting “stupidly”. It sounds odd but from one perspective the level of stupidity can rise to the level of criminal culpability. In this case, the stupidity was so extreme it was far above and beyond what what is considered a mistake that a “reasonable person” might do. Reasonable person is used often in the law to mean what a person of prudent and having ordinary caution would do in the same situation. This does not mean that a reasonable person is expected to not make errors, but the degree of error becomes criminal when the person negligently or recklessly disregards obvious safety or reasonable standards of conduct. A reasonable error can be (in the criminal sense) a person parks their manual transmission equipped car on a hill but forgets to set the hand brake. After a few minutes the car rolls down the hill and a death ensues. From a criminal standpoint that often would not be considered to be a criminal violation (the person could be sued in civil court however) A reckless example resulting in a manslaughter case would be if a person pushed the car down the hill for fun to see what would happen and a death resulted. In our article this man was alleged to have been acting in a manner that no reasonable person would ever engage in, that is shooting a person.

    On a side note there is an old law in my state, Washington, where this behavior is specifically illegal. It is called Dangerous Exhibitions.

    Dangerous exhibitions.

    Every proprietor, lessee, or occupant of any place of amusement, or any plat of ground or building, who allows it to be used for the exhibition of skill in throwing any sharp instrument or in shooting any bow gun or firearm of any description, at or toward any human being, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.

    In this example, the act of shooting at another person is directly illegal per se. If a death resulted from this it would be considered in our state to be Manslaughter in the First Degree.

    As to the Accessory After the Fact charge against Taylor this means the person had assisted a person alleged to commit a felony crime assisted in the avoidance of prosecution or arrest of the felon. It can take many forms, such as concealing the location of the person, hiding evidence, harboring the felon, or assisting the person flee to another jurisdiction. All of this includes an element that the accused has knowlege that a felony was committed.

    Sorry for the late reply. Just got back to reading the articles.

    1. Darren – I think the defendant can make the case that a reasonable person (from watching TV) would think the vest would work and at worst they would have bruised ribs. You have to give he credit, he was a great shot.
      I think the girl is on the hook.

    2. Thanks, Darren. That explains a lot about the other part of the story of this guy getting shot while wearing body armor: what the charges were against the shooter, and why it was a criminal act, not just a simple stupid accident. This sort of thing could too easily be intentional and then claimed to accidental, so some type of punishment has to be taken, even if just to get a message across to other dim-bulbs in the public, nefarious intent or not, who might be tempted to do something similar.

      Obviously, the old circus or carnival knife-throwers who exhibited their skills by just missing a beautiful assistant as the target would be out of a job in your state. And William Tell would be considered a criminal today.

      1. Darren – I am not sure the knife thrower thingie works here because the owner/occupant has to be involved.

  5. “What do you think the charges were, and why were they charged? If this was just a stupid accident, can that stupidity be criminally prosecuted?”

    What were the charges? “he is now the one charged with Involuntary Manslaughter.” Why? He pointed a gun at someone, pulled the trigger, and killed a guy. Can stupidity be charged? If the actions violate the law, of course!

  6. Interesting group on this blog . . . I previously made a joke that some here considered inappropriate and several of you were all over me. But I respond with a serious thought to InalienableWrights’ comment about not understanding why the shooter was charged when it was obviously an accident, which seems like a valid point in this incident, and I ask the lawyers here to reply to my question regarding the legalities involved against the shooter, and all I hear are crickets. What do you think the charges were, and why were they charged? If this was just a stupid accident, can that stupidity be criminally prosecuted?

    1. Tyger – Damned if we know. However, my thinking is that they got two different stories and then the victim is Mr. Stupid. The charge is the lowest they can probably charge without making it a traffic violation. There are some prosecutors who feel that somebody has to pay.

  7. It is possible the vest was either put on incorrectly or was too small for the person shot. The news article read that bullet went through the vest but missed the Kevlar, striking the heart. It kind of makes me wonder what kind of vest this was because most under-the-shirt versions have carriers that fit snugly against the Kevlar.

    A properly fitting vest completely covers the heart area from the front. The top of these vests is slightly below the neckline of the outer shirt. They also round out along to the outside and upward toward the top of the shoulder where the straps hold it to the back panel of the carrier. (these are velcroed in place)

    Vests must be custom fitted for the wearer and even then they must be properly adjusted. Here is a video that explains this.

  8. Paul,

    “Vince – I see three possible scenarios 1) defective equipment 2) improperly worn vest 3) one hell of a shot.”

    You forgot an obvious scenario: an idiot. Easy to do, it would seem.

    1. There is no indication of the age of the participants here but we know for studies that the human brain does not fully form until age 23. If the vest wear and shoot were under 23 were they ‘stupid’ or ‘just kids, being kids?’

  9. There are two other possibilities: (1) the vest was too big for the dead dude and hung low on his torso, exposing his upper chest or (2) the vest was not really a ballistic vest at all, but instead was a vest used by corrections officers to deflect knife attacks.

  10. Waldo,
    The story does not give the make and model of the body armor vest used. That might be important, because some brands “age out.” For example, Second Chance Body Armor filed for Chapter 11 protection after lawsuits in about a dozen states. There were both deaths and injuries. It was learned the Zylon™ fiber material used by Second Chance Body Armor deteriorates with age. Testing showed that Zylon™ loses 10-20% of its effectiveness within two years of manufacture.

    To be fair, when new, Second Chance does what it is supposed to do. For example, Officer Jim Martin of the Mena, Arkansas police department was shot multiple times at close range with a .357 pistol, none of which penetrated.

    In 2003, Officer Tony Zeppetella, of the Oceanside, CA Police Department, was killed when shot three times with 9 mm rounds. Two of the three bullets penetrated his Second Chance body armor.

    Also in 2003, a .40 caliber round penetrated the Second Chance vest worn by Officer Edward Limbacher of Forest Hills, PA. He survived his wound.

    No one knows how many old vests are laying around that were never turned in. Without knowing he age and pedigree of any given vest, anybody doing a live test on one is asking for a Darwin Award.

  11. If someone is killed in an automobile “accident” due to someone else’s negligence, is this not vehicular homicide, or at least manslaughter? The same logic might be applied here. Shooting someone, even if that person is wearing a “ballistic vest”, would seem to be an act with the potential for death, so even if the intent to kill was missing, lack of using good sense might be applicable and be the basis for some sort of criminal negligence action. What do the lawyers here have to say about this? Can stupidity be prosecuted?

  12. Live by the sword… even in chainmail.
    Alas. Repeated through the generations.

  13. As this incident points out, the correct nomenclature is “ballistic vest” not “bullet proof vest”. If the round missed the Kevlar panel, either one of two things happened: (1) the shooter did not shoot the decedent in the chest or (2) the dead dude was wearing the vest backward.

    There are no gaps between panels of a Kevlar vest. After all, having gaps would defeat the purpose of the vest, right. The front panel is one piece and overlaps the back panel, also one piece. Unless the vest was being worn backward, the only way for a bullet to enter the vest is from the rear where, conceivably, it could enter through the seam created by the overlap between the front and rear panels.

    1. Vince – I see three possible scenarios 1) defective equipment 2) improperly worn vest 3) one hell of a shot. I would consider the knife deflection type as well. Had not considered that.

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