St. Petersburg, FL – A 20 year old woman was shot in the head Sunday when the church sound engineer was showing friends his firearm. The suspect, Moises Zambrana, took friends into a closet to demonstrate the gun’s safety features.
A negligent discharge happened sending a bullet through the wall and into the victim’s head. The victim, Hannah Grace Kelley was transported to Bayfront Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. She is listed in critical condition.
The injured woman is the pastor’s daughter.
Police continue to investigate the incident saying, “It appears at this time to be just a tragic accident.”
I could not disagree more. While I am sure the PIO was negating the incident to calm community fears, I am sure it is being investigated as a crime, and the facts of the case will be presented to a grand jury or prosecutor.
The trigger was pressed and a bullet exited the barrell. It was not an accident.
As most responsible CCW permit holders know and understand, there are places to show friends a new firearm, and church is not on the list for one of those places. I would recommend a firing range while exercising muzzle discipline, pointing the weapon down range, and making sure there is not a round in the barrel, and having the weapon safety checked by those in attendance.
While age and inexperience may have played a part in this incident, it is not an excuse if someone is injured or killed due to a negligent discharge. We pray Hannah survives her injuries with minimal life altering injury.
It is unknown if the suspect was formally part of the church’s security efforts, but it lends strength to my position that specific people, with extensive training and experience be given the responsibility of carrying a firearm for security purposes.
While many churches do not prohibit the lawful carrying of firearms on their church campuses, it is an incident like this that may cause a church to scrutinze their campus gun policy.
I do not mean to appear uncompassionate to the young man who fired the weapon. I am sure his life will change as a result of his actions, but firearms are a serious business, and having full and complete knowledge of your weapon, and the maturity to carry it, are two critical elements in the responsible carrying of a firearm.