February 26, 2013

No charges expected in accidental shooting at range

Rachel Brown
rachelbrown@daltoncitizen.com

— No charges are expected after a 12-year-old girl under adult supervision accidentally dropped a double-barreled shotgun, causing it to fire and hit two people in the legs, officials said.

Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rick Swiney said the incident happened Saturday at about noon at the Chestnut Mountain shooting range, a property under Georgia Department of Natural Resources supervision.

Swiney said the girl was with a group of people and at least one let her shoot the shotgun.

“The recoil was so much with her not being experienced to shoot a shotgun like that, it fell from her arms when she shot it,” Swiney said. “When it hit the ground, the other round that was in the other barrel of the shotgun (went off).”

He said some of the pellets struck the lower legs of two people, a married couple, who were about 10 yards from the girl. Both were taken to Hamilton Medical Center. Contrary to some news reports, they were on the firing line and not downrange, Swiney said.

Swiney said the shooting was an accident and the sheriff’s office doesn’t plan to file charges. He added it’s “never a good idea to mix small children and guns.”

Judy Toppins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said children are allowed to shoot at the range as long as an adult guardian accompanies them, and users are allowed to fire shotguns there under certain conditions.

“Shotguns utilizing multiple projectile ammunition may be fired at stationary targets for purposes of assessing shotgun patterns” according to range rules, she said.

“We are still finalizing our investigation, but at this time the shooting appears to have been unintentional,” Toppins said.

The case has been turned over to the district attorney’s office for review.