Posted by pouncer at 184.108.40.206 on April 30, 2004 at 11:01:09:
ORLANDO -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating an incident in which one of its agents giving a presentation to Orlando-area children on gun safety shot himself in the thigh.
Orlando police investigators have ruled the April 9 shooting at The Callahan Center, 101 N. Parramore Ave., accidental, police Lt. Curley Bowman said Thursday night.
But DEA special agent Joe Kilmer said Thursday night that an internal investigation led by officials at the agency's headquarters in Washington was still ongoing. Kilmer would not release the name of the agent involved. After the agent was treated at Orlando Regional Medical Center for a gunshot wound to his left thigh, he returned to work, Kilmer said.
Vivian Farmer, 52, was in a classroom at The Callahan Center with her 13-year-old nephew when the agent began his presentation about 7 p.m. Roughly 50 adults and children were present, and it was "standing room only," Farmer said Thursday night.
The presentation was part of a class called "The Game of Life, The Game of Golf," according to a police report. It was held by the Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association, which aims to introduce minority children to the sport. The agent was speaking to the youths about making good life choices and included a presentation on gun safety, according to the report.
During the speech, the agent drew his .40-caliber duty weapon and removed the magazine, the report said. He then pulled back the slide and asked a man in the audience to look inside the weapon to make sure it was not loaded, the report said.
"The person nodded that it didn't have ammunition," Farmer recounted. "The gun was never pointed at anyone."
Witnesses told police that the agent kept his gun pointed toward the floor and when he released the slide, the weapon fired one shot into the top of his thigh.
"The kids screamed and started to cry," Farmer recounted. "My first thought was that it was part of his presentation. I thought it was a blank and he was trying to make a point about how easy it is to fire, to get the kids' attention. But then I looked at the agent's face and he looked surprised. Then there was a quick grimace on his face of sudden pain.
"I thought, 'This isn't a joke. This is real.' "
Farmer said most people rushed out while an ambulance and police were arriving.
"Everyone was pretty shaken up," Farmer said. "But the point of gun safety hit home. Unfortunately, the agent had to get shot. But after seeing that, my nephew doesn't want to have anything to do with guns."
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