The New Year Brings New Accidental Shootings

220px-Criminologygunglock180px-San_Diego_FireworksA few days after the tragic shooting of a mother in Wal-Mart by her two-year-old son in Idaho, we have two additional negligent shooting in California and Georgia. These cases present differences how such shooting cases are handled. In California, a man was arrested after his girlfriend was hit by a celebratory New Year’s shot while in Georgia a wife was hit by a round fired by a local police chief. [Update: Sheriff McCollum now says that he was moving the gun while in bed when it discharged twice].


Stephen Lucas, 24, was arrested after he fired a gun at midnight to celebrate the New Year and the round somehow hit his girlfriend. He now faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, among other felony charges. She died 20 hours into 2015. They have a toddler together who is now without a mother or a father.

ht_police_chief_shooting_jc_150101_4x3_992In Georgia, the Peachtree City Police Chief William McCollom called 911 to report that he had shot his wife. She is in critical condition.

The obvious difference between the two cases is that Lucas was engaged in a clearly illegal act when he negligently fired the weapon. He appears to be one of the many morons who fire weapons to celebrate despite the obvious risk to others. That makes this more than simple negligence for Lucas.

Source: CBS and Fox

73 thoughts on “The New Year Brings New Accidental Shootings”

  1. Lloyd:

    “For every one time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were 4 unintentional shootings, 7 criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” Please cite your sources. One of my complaints is that firearms used in self defense are note required to be tracked. All figures are based on estimates.

    For example, when my father used a firearm to prevent someone from breaking into the house at night, that stat was not tracked. The estimates I’ve seen from self defense are actually far higher than firearm homicides, but, again, they are estimates.

    Darren & Aridog – I agree that an outside investigation needs to occur. The circumstances and handling of the weapon seem strange. I was raised to have a healthy respect for firearms. I cannot imagine sleeping with one in the bed. That doesn’t meant this wasn’t an accident, but we need to make sure. Even if the wife is able to speak, if this happened while she was sleeping, she cannot say what happened, perhaps what preceded it.

    And I HATE when people fire their guns in the air in celebration. Where do they think the bullets go? This is very common in Mexico, for some reason, but “celebratory gunfire” can happen anywhere. Phoenix has effectively reduced celebratory gunfire with education. There was a scandal out here where someone accidentally shot and killed his own horse by shooting into the air. It wasn’t in my neighborhood, but the surrounding area.

    http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2013/12/yo_stupid_dont_shoot_guns_in_t.php

  2. I have to chuckle at the mention of “Seattle”… on of my few visits inside the city, when passing through Ft Lewis otherwise, was when I walked across the local university campus in my (then) dress greens, with sergeant’s chevrons for all to see, to visit a friend there who was working on her doctorate. Interesting to say the least of it.

  3. Schulte

    Funny we may have met in passing.

    Re attendance

    Same drop in attendance at churches 35 yrs later. But now includes a lot more girls (daughters).

    Several years ago in Montana, one of the dads drives his pickup to the little church office. His13 yr old daughter jumps out and runs to my door and bangs on it. She was so excited and wanted to show me her 4 point buck. She climbed up and held the head up. So proud. Good meat.

    Not too many years ago, an East Coast Congresswoman heard about all the deer roadkill…I have five and a probable to my “credit”. Those poor animals. She came real close to submitting a bill which would have required all of Montana’s hwys (not just the Interstates) to be fenced with high fences so deer couldn’t get to the road. This in a State that had wars over fencing just for cattle. Imaging 9 ft barrier fences on thousands of miles of roads. Montana is just shy of 500 miles east-west.

    There is a wide chasm between East Coast thought and Montana’s.

    Can just see the following:
    Outside Boston, dad drives daughter up to church during a women’s meeting. Daughter jumps out and invites the priest and the ladies.out to see the bloody dead deer and this 13 yr old gets out her very own scoped 308 rifle for posing by the carcass.

    I’ve been to this particular site as many years ago I was a candidate for its clergy position. Great people, wonderful visit, great ministry…especially with youth. But, my wife and I knew we just could not adapt to the very different culture.

    1. Canon for Veterans Ministry – I know how those cultures can be. I was a candidate for a job in Seattle and turned it down for two reasons 1) the culture of the area would have driven me crazy and 2) the weather would have had me opening a vein in two weeks. I have to see the sun every day or I get depressed.

      1. Yep…Seattle is different. Fortunately I never had to actually work in that city. A few years ago a sociologist profiled the State’s regions and Seattle/King County was a unit unto itself as was Spokane and a few others. Very little in common between S & KC and the State’s other component parts. Extract that one component and you have a purple with several red splotches State politically.

        For as liberal and “open-minded” as Seattle seems, it’s all surface. Little tolerance for true open discussion. In addition under the surface tensions are rising as the ethnic profile shifts toward Hispanic being the political majority minority..

        As for the Sun….I know what you mean. The Flathead Valley in Montana is worse than Seattle…we lived there for 5 yrs then moved to Red Lodge. The first morning I woke up to a full out gorgeous Big Sky sunrise and my soul jumped for joy. Great place geographically; plains butt up to the Beartooths with the northeast entrance to Yellowstone…..then the wind blows and it howls and packs the snow into concrete. No place is perfect.

        I was given a full spectrum lamp to help and we are fortunate to be able to go to the Sea of Cortez twice a year….warm water, sun, sun, sun ..did I mention sun?

  4. Canon for Veterans Ministry —

    Lucky for you that there was work in Glasgow. Your family could have been out at that radar facility at Opheim.

    I was Navy in the ’70 ‘s, but missed out on the defense of North Dakota. I put my best efforts into the defense of Hawaii and WestPac, though.

    1. Porkchop,

      Let’s see ah yes the other part of that decade.
      69-70…Destroyer Escort on Market Time dancing with junks
      70-71. On the rivers loving the tune that had “rolling, rolling, rolling down the river.” Then the freedom bird songs. We gotta get out a this place, do you know the way to San Jose and leavin on a jet plane….some of the lyrics were a tad changed. 😉

      Then back again for North’s Easter Offensive of 1972 then caught in the middle Super-typhoon Rita. Typhoons “never turn south” ….. Not true.

      Fargo in 76 78 was about as far away as one could get from the coasts.

  5. Back to this sheriff (sorry about the false start above), what is with all these stars proliferating across law enforcement? It’s like juntas. I can “buy” 4 stars for somebody like the NYC police commissioner–if “Blue Bloods” is accurate.

    Three stars for a police chief with 7 officers in a city with about 36,000 residents? One of our county sheriffs in Puget Sound (not Seattle’s King County) always wears his four stars. Patton was promoted to 3 stars when he was given II Corps in North Africa and proceeded to cleanup. But even then his permanent rank was Colonel (an Eagle) …3 stars were temporary wartime until Congress acts later.

    Somehow there has to be a “Stolen Valor” thing in this whole LE insignia construct. (Before anybody jumps on this.. The Stolen Valor comment is tongue in cheek. Although I am still biting part of my tongue.)

  6. Paul Schultz

    My half-brother was born there in ’57. I attended the new primary school and lived just around the corner from it. (At first tho, I did have to trek to the old one. We were in MC from late 4th…early 5th grade and moved again.)

    Father Wright was the Episcopal priest and flunked me for confirmation. Had very poor rote memory, and he demanded memorization of the whole Catechism. 35 yrs later I was ordained, and my first church was in Montana. Ah the humor in all that.

  7. Darren I was not aware that WordPress only allows two links. Thanks for the information.

  8. @ Canon for Veterans Ministry

    I guess we were almost neighbors at one time — I grew up in Scobey. Left in ’69. Was yours an Air Force family? (Glasgow, Great Falls?)

    1. Porkchop

      Naw but there were various civil service and contractor connections.

      Funny isn’t it? We who lived up there say “almost neighbors.” Similar to others of the Plains States and Alaska.

      It’s like a fraternal society, initiated by the flat plains, winds, bitter cold, mosquitos, heat, no shade, loneliness as the state had less population than San Francisco and those long, long bus rides to and from competition events.
      Gawd, I thought Glasgow was small until I went to Scobey.

      I was Navy stationed in Fargo ND (a story for another time) and had just arrived with California plates. A Sears guy comes out to bid on a project. I saw him study the rear plate as he came to the house. Early in the conversation, he got around to “it.” ……”You’re not from around here are you?” When I said I was born and raised in Glasgow it was like we were next door neighbors. Although it took awhile to pick up da Nord Dacoda inflection in order to blend in.

      For those not aware ….Fargo is as far east as you can go and still be in ND. Glasgow is about 50 miles west of the MT/ND stateline. Yet we were as neighbors. As a Navy lieutenant, I was the senior active duty Naval Officer for the State….after all we had to stand guard against the Canadian hordes coming down the Red River that flows north. They came to plunder our largess ……errrr… Go shopping at West Acres Mall. It was the tax difference, dontcha know.

      Now people “carried” there too. Whenever I got a flat out on the mostly gravel roads, out would come the tire equipment AND a firearm. Rattlesnakes! They love the road for its absorbed heat. No major “arty” ….just a .410 shotgun.

      Never did get up early and clean it though. It only got cleaned before winter storage. But not in the house and certainly not on the kitchen table. Both my wife and I were Navy Expert Rifle and Pistol.

      Hate to say it. I was too used to a my armory Gunners Mate (on a previous ship) taking care of me. In fact, I was not allowed to clean his “babies.” Never had a misfire from our Ma Deuces all the way to the shotline gun.

      1. Canon for Veterans Ministry – you will remember the opening day of deer hunting season as more than half the males in the high school were missing (sick of course). The closest team we played was 80 miles away, the furthest 450 (3 day road trip). Rev. Wright’s son and I were good friends and I visited their house many times. Saw my first foreign movie at their community center with the Film Club.

  9. I think that my story above made it into the local newspaper back in Missouri in those days. It was called The Ferguson Town Talk.

  10. I had a dream and woke up thinking that I had some tasks to do. I sat down on the sofa and thought about the dirty gun in my holster locked in the closet. It was four a.m. and I went and got it out and got out my gun cleaning kit. I was intent in cleaning it so it would not tarnish and be damaged. It was a glock and because of the clock I was not thinking when I fudged around and the damn thing went off. The bullet went through the wall and into the neighbor’s apartment. It so happened that next door an intruder had come through the window and was standing over the neighbor lady getting ready to rape her. It so happened that the bullet came through the wall and shot him. Yeah, you got it. No he got it– in the weeny. He went back out the window with a trail a blood and less one weeny. The cops came, gathered the evidence and asked how it was that I was prescient enough to shoot the perp through the wall and prevent the crime. I could not tell them the truth. I said I was peeping through the hole in the wall which was already there when I saw the perp and decided to stop him cold. The cops could not prove that there was not already a hole in the wall because the bullet did make a clean one. They found the guy in a hospital across the state line in Illinois and matched him to the weeny. This was all many years ago in a prior life when I was a human–not a dog. In fact when I got my interview at the Pearly Gates the Saint Peter guy there already knew the story and let me come back in this incarnation as a dog. It was my choice of course. It it were not for that accident I would be walking around somewhere on two legs thinking about what my work duties at the office might be tomorrow.

  11. Canon for Veterans Ministry….I will try to”resist,” ( no promises) but if it is “cannon” I’ll duck.

  12. Fr Mike/Canon for Vets said…

    Remember, at least one of Jesus’s close followers had been openly carrying a weapon of the day …

    Like this?

    Sorry…could. not. resist. it.

  13. Max-1 said …

    Why is that Chief of Police that insecure he feels compelled to sleep with his service gun loaded with the safety off?

    That model pistol has no safety to set on or off, only a passive safety (trigger toggle) and a relatively light trigger pull. A finger or anything else pulling on that trigger and the gun goes off. As I said above, it belongs in a holster unless actively engaged on paper targets or in combat.

    PS: I just noticed your post of the 911 call … I heard it on the evening news and didn’t read up thread first. My bad.

  14. Heard earlier on television news that the GBI released the chief’s 911 call tape, and some bits of information, such as that the pistol involved was his duty issued Glock 17. Tape seems to say the gun was in his bed. Uh, yep, that’s a recipe (and an “excuse”, if weak) for a probable accidental discharge. A intentional discharge is of course not ruled out. I am only saying that make & model pistol is not something to kept in a bed, or sock drawer…anywhere it can be inadvertently touched off. It belongs in a holster, period. Repeat, holstered, period. Holsters designed for Glocks all have a trigger & guard cover…e.g., you cannot reach the trigger while holstered. A striker-fired semi-auto with only passive safety features…e.g, the trigger toggle. On a trigger that requires 5.5 lbs of trigger pressure to discharge. V-e-r-y easy to mishandle that with fingers or snag it on something if lying loose under a pillow, in a bed anywhere, or even just unholstered on a night stand. Also very easy to intentionally pull the trigger…little “thought” is required.

    The news person said the trigger pull of that Model 17 is substantial…nonsense, as I said it is 5.5 llbs pull…compare to my Kimber all steel custom shop Model 1911 .45 ACP hardball competition gun…with a crisp 5 lb pull as delivered from the factory. Or my FNX-45 with 10.5 lbs pull when de-cocked and 4.5 lbs-5.0 lbs single action.

    All that and I never keep or store my pistols anywhere without them being in holsters designed to completely cover the trigger guard & trigger itself…I cannot reach those triggers while in the holster. And I would never keep them in or on my bed.

    This story about the chief is going to get weirder before it gets resolved. An experienced police officer handling his pistol like some Hollywood movie guy or girl in a B movie. Please.

  15. Father Morrissey, I think, in most cases, the Good Lord made big men gentle.

    1. Paul Schultz

      Glasgow off and on ’til 62
      Also Great Falls, Glendive and Miles City

      then Big Fork and Red Lodge in ’92 for 11 total
      Almost sounds like a sentence doesn’t it?
      But only stayed in Deer Lodge in a motel.

      Grandad (my mother’s dad) was a teenage (100% Scot) shepherd out from St Paul MN in early 1900s.

      My mother’s grandfather (her mother’s side and 100% Irish) was Minot’s undertaker and a bootlegger,
      Canadian caskets with booze on the way to Chicago.
      his brother-in-law was killed by Bugsy in Vegas and shipped back to Minot.

      Then some clowns (tongue in cheek) rescinded Prohibition and Montana outlawed gambling.

      It was only the Scot who had anything left in the bank when he died.

  16. In reviewing the 911 recording Max-1 provided (thank you) I make the following observations, (exclusive of what is readily apparent in the recording)

    A few commenters have voiced concern the chief sounded too calm and was therefore suspicious. That is a possibility yet from my reading of it he is telling the dispatcher very brief and pertinent information that he would know to convey so that the dispatcher could process the call quickly. I would expect this of a law enforcement officer in that excited and irrational communication is something that does not work in the profession.

    I can hear tension in his voice and there is worry in it, he initially does not state her correct age–he states 55 but is corrected by someone in the background who says 58. According to later statement he makes, there is nobody else in the house. Sometimes under pressure people can forget small details.

    The initial belief that the wife was shot twice, as evidenced by him saying the “back and the side” could possibly be that he saw two wounds. One could have been an entry would and the other an exit wound.

    One issue I thought odd was the chief claimed that he “moved the pistol to the side and it went off” but then states that both were asleep.

  17. Nick,
    Now that might be interesting.

    When I served in Montana, we had a priest:
    Former Marine
    Over 6’6″ (slid under the Marine height restrictions)
    Carried himself well
    Long beard…not scraggly
    Good sized build ….not heavy, not skinny
    Baritone voice
    Piercing eyes
    Concealed permit and carried

    I always figured that his mere physicality would cause trepidation and exit.

    Think he didn’t see himself that way. A very gentle soul.

  18. Pistol Packin’ Padres, sounds like a great concept for a reality TV show.

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