Skip to comments.Five-Year-Old Boy Dies After Being Struck By Stray Bullet (Which was fired by cops)
Posted on 08/05/2007 6:29:48 AM PDT by LouAvul
Noble, Oklahoma - A five-year-old boy is dead after a tragic mistake in which a stray bullet, meant to kill a snake, struck the boy.
It happened Friday night in Noble, about 100 miles southwest of Tulsa in Cleveland County. Officers had responded to a rural area after a family called about a snake.
Noble City Manager Bob Wade says the snake was apparently in the rafters of a home and that officers decided to shoot the snake. But, when they did so, they later heard the boy screaming.
The boy, who was apparently fishing at a nearby pond, had been struck by the gunfire. The boy was airlifted to a nearby hospital, but was pronounced dead. He was identified Saturday evening as Austin Haley.
Noble City Manager Bob Wade says he is 'devastated' by the tragedy. Meanwhile, the officer who fired the shots has been placed on routine administrative leave while the investigation continues.
But, from the story, the police shot up into the ceiling. The bullet went through the roof, reached its apex and then began its descent. And by the time it reached the child, it had enough velocity/energy to kill the child.
That's just so bizarre. It's bizarre because my college physics teacher said that a free falling bullet lacks sufficient mass at terminal velocity to do much damage.
Standard procedure is the SHOOT A SNAKE OUT OF THE RAFTERS?
What a f-ing moron.
The cop should be facing jail just like we would.
Has to be a ricochet...
Either way, shooting a snake with a pistol is not a good idea in a confided space especially if it was not a life threatening situation.
Why not just blow it out of the rafters with a 4/10 and birdshot?
May God help the family of this little boy.
Even if I could nail the beast I would be concerned about the round passing though and ricocheting around.
How very strange. Poor little boy.
tell this lady about that.
It might not have been straight up, but at an angle and "lobbed" into the kid's chest, head or belly.
Sad case. Shotguns are the best for snakes...little .410 with bird shot.... or just a stick and jam its head off.
True if the bullet flies straight up, runs out of momentum, and then falls straight down, powered only by gravity. Not true if the bullet flies in an arc, still spinning and on a stable trajectory, still with momentum from the powder load that fired it.
Or even a standard-issue sidearm and rat-shot. That's what my dad used to carry on long hikes in the woods, precisely for use against snakes -- and in that case, he'd be firing down into soft earth.
This is a classic case of a scenario not covered in training and a cop who didn't think it all the way through.
Regardless, the officer was criminally negligent and should face charges.
I can’t imagine it. I get snakes around my acreage but even with no near neighbors I always calculate where my bullet might go, like glancing off water surface, for example. I blew the head off a cotton mouth in my front yard with a 22 rifle, after I got my dog and cat inside. I was aiming down, no chance to go into pastures, etc. And I am a dumb female with no firearms training.
It's not mass, but energy, I think you mean. And they explored this on Mythbusters a while back too. The conclusion was it was unlikely a free falling bullet would be lethal.
But I can imagine a missed shot, because he wasn't likely shooting "straight up" or even nearly so, remaining in a ballistic trajectory until it hit something, and it's unfortunate the child was in that path.
I'm not going to be judgmental here, not knowing all the circumstances. It certainly appears there was a negligent use of the weapon here, though it's not hard to imagine the mindset that would have allowed it.
The lesson, be certain of what's beyond your target, probabilities are not reliable. Oh - and use the proper weapon and ammunition.
And you believed him/her?
One more reason college professors should be fired and institutionalized. Sheeeeez. Here in Tucson, AZ it is illegal to fire your guns into the air precisely for the reason this little boy has tragically died. Over the years several people here in Tucson have died or been severely injured because of lead falling from the sky after morons found it fun and funny to shoot rounds into the air during their 4th of July, Cinco de Mayo and other celebrations.
I was always taught that you do not shoot your weapon towards anything if you don't have a pretty good idea where the bullet is going to rest.
Prayers to the child's family.
The critical issue on which this case should, IMHO, turn is whether the snake was poisonous. Such a snake could easily become a threat to health and/or life of the property owner.
The property owner should have been able to take care of such a simple thing as killing a snake. Second Amendment, anyone?
But, for whatever reason, the cops were called, resonded in what seemed a reasonable manner, and dealt with the snake by sending it to the Great Snake Hole In The Sky.
Unfortunately, a freak accident killed the boy. To blame or charge the officer would, again IMHO, be accepting the Nanny State ASSumption that it is teh role of the government to keep us safe from all harm.
The goverment isn’t G*D. We are Americans, and much of what the government does it should not be doing. Shooting snakes is one of them.
Having brought up the issue of individual responsibility v. government assumption of “risk abatement”, nothing I or anyone else can say will diminish the loss that family suffered.
But, if the facts were as described, the officer would seem to not have been at fault.
Four during the recent Asia Cup celebrations. But you don't have to go to the Middle East for that stuff -- there have been enough cases in cities like Dallas and New Orleans that those cities run TV ads in the weeks leading up to New Year's Day warning against celebratory gunfire.
The grandfather said the first shot was loud and hit the pond directly in front of them. He claims he yelled that there were people down at the pond and then there was a second shot that killed the grandson.
From that, I would say the child and grandfather were directly downrange from the shooter. Worse yet, the two should have been seen and heard by the idiot doing the shooting.
So sad and tragic.
What?!? The critical issue is whether the officer reacted in a reasonable manner. Did he employ appropriate force? When he decided to discharge his firearm, did he act in a responsible manner?
The property owner should have been able to take care of such a simple thing as killing a snake.
Probably true. However, that in no way mitigates the officer's actions. The two are totally unrelated.
Having brought up the issue of individual responsibility v. government assumption of risk abatement...the officer would seem to not have been at fault.
Those two statements are directly at odds. If we are to enforce individual responsibility, then we must hold this individual responsible for his negligent actions.
I strongly disagree. An officer fired his weapon in the absence of an imminent threat to human life. That shot killed a child. That the bullet could pass through the thin plywood of a house roof is something the cop should have foreseen.
I'm not saying tat the cop is criminally liable -- i don't know a lot of detail, but I'm leaning toward the position that he isn't -- but the folks in charge should look at this event and rethink their procedures to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
it's a training issue.
Know your target and what is beyond !
And OBTW a shotgun with bird-shot would have been more appropriate.
The story keeps changing, first version had the snake hanging out of a bird house in the yard.
I forgot about those. My Dad used to shoot water moccasins with one those while wade/fishing for large mouth bass.
Sounds like a “hold mah beer - hey watch this” moment ....... In the boonies we carried capture poles for bad doggies and sniks etc etc ...... I think the post above about the LEO in the attic shooting at vs up towards the snake is the plausible scenario that killed the kid.
Mythbusters did a show on falling bullets , projectiles fired from handguns and pretty much proved a hit from a round dropping from the sky , fired from the ground , hasn’t enough force to kill or seriously injure. I’d suggest from here on the couch with information provided this was a horizontal high velocity hit vs vertical artillery impact.
Stay safe !
The grandfather also said the bullet went into the back of the boy’s head and out his forehead. I don’t know as much about guns as others, but that doesn’t sound like it’s likely to be a ricochet. It sounds like a straight shot.
I saw the change too. Now the bird house was on the porch and the snake was in the rafters of the house. Either way is was a chicken snake or a rat snake, both harmless, but not a rattle snake.
“..lacks sufficient mass at terminal velocity..”
I hope that you are not saying that the mass of the bullet changes at terminal velocity.
>But, if the facts were as described, the officer would seem to not have been at fault.<
If you as a civilian had done the same thing, would you be at fault? Yes or no?
This cop did a stupid,stupid,thing. At the very least he should be fired from the force.
To clarify, the Mythbusters demonstrated that a bullet fired straight up will not fall back to Earth with enough force to cause serious harm. That is, a bullet that exhausts all of its momentum and is propelled by gravity alone. Those bullets tumble, and are slowed greatly by air friction. They have a relatively low terminal velocity, and if one conked you on top of the head, you'd say "ow."
But go a few degrees off vertical, and you're not dealing with a falling body any more. You have a projectile in a ballistically-stable arc, still spinning from the rifling in the barrel, and still retaining some momentum form the powder charge that fired it. Those are the bullets that frequently injure innocent bystanders, sometimes as far as two miles from where the shot was fired. The Mythbusters addressed that, too, not with an experiment but in interviews with an ER doc and a review of the medical literature.
You need a new school.
The last snake I had to mess with, a diamondback, I used a hoe. (The garden tool!)
Most homes that have a lawn probably have a hoe or rake somewhere.
I suppose I’ve dealt with more snakes than many folks. I’ve never seen a rattler climb much of anything, let alone bird house poles and rafters. Moccasins will crawl out a limb and bask, but horizontal trees are easy.
Someone is covering butt here, and not very good at it.
The facts will come out when a claim against the home owners insurance prompts a pro investigation.
“Only trained law enforcement officers are qualified to use firearms.”
The other article said the snake was ascending some type of bird house.
In the case of the .45-70 there are documented cases of lethal shots at well over a mile. In Afcrapistan some Canadian snipers wacked a guy at at 1375 Meters. Fire those weapons straight up and they could do some damage due to the weight of the bullet. But a 38 caliber or a 9mm have very little force when acted upon by gravity.
BTW the penny off the Empire State building killing someone is also not true.
Oh BS. The snake, poisonous or not, didn't present an immediate threat to human life. Cops can't just blast off rounds into the unknown world, because of a damn snake----venemous or not.
The argument, as presented, doesn’t make sense. Just because the bullet has lost its forward momentum doesn’t mean it’s lost its spin any more than a bullet fired at an angle.
I have a small (24", I think) tanto sword that I found for ten bucks. It's easier to carry and easier to use than a machete, and serves the same function, cutting down the ivy in the yard and hacking through brush in the woods.
It hasn't met a snake yet, but I have faith that it would get the job done.
My dad grew up in Florida, and his sangfroid around snakes wowed me twice when I was a kid. Once, we were running out to play in the back yard, and he held out his arm and waved us back.
He picked up the BB gun on the porch, pumped it 7 or 8 times, shouldered, aimed and fired. I didn't see the copperhead about 30 feet away until I saw its head explode. Dad picked it up, and as he carried the two-foot carcass back to the garbage can, told us we could go play. We did, after standing there slack-jawed for a minute.
The second time was at Sea World. A snake slithered across one of the paved trails in the park, clearing a path as people jumped back, some of them squealing. Even I could tell that it was a black racer, and harmless. it hid under a push-cart selling ice cream, and the kid with the push-cart jumped back.
Dad calmly walked over, pulled the cart aside, and in one deft motion swept his hand under the snake and pinned its mouth shut between his thumb and forefinger. It wasn't venomous, but a bite still hurts.
By this time, some more park employees had showed up to investigate the commotion. Dad held the wriggling snake and asked, "where should I put this?" They pointed, and Dad tossed the snake over a fence. It slithered off, no doubt with a new resolve to avoid further human contact.
Sorry mad_as_he$$ but you don’t know what you are talking about. A grain of sand can be “lethal” if it hits the right person in the right place.
From yesterdays post this is different, it was a populated subdivision, the shots was at a snake on a porch, and the cops were only about fifty yards from kid. He was hit in the head and the cops walked by the boy and left. He died in his grandfathers arms, and the kid never had a chance to scream. Two cops need to spend a long time in jail.
In hindsight it would have been better to simply burn down the house.
Yes it's covered its called never pull and discharge your weapon, unless it is a life threatening situation, but then cops are not known for being real high IQ types.
A BB (or pellet) gun would do the trick nicely.
One of those forensics shows on cable looked at a case of a kid at an air rifle competition who suddenly dropped dead. They found a 9mm bullet in his brain. He was at an indoor range surrounded by people, and no one saw a thing out of the ordinary. There were no firearms -- just air rifles -- in the building.
The investigators found the hole in the skin of the building -- basically an aluminum quonset hut -- and used lasers to track the bullet back to its origin. They concluded that someone at the nearby outdoor range was a lousy shot, or his weapon had double-fired -- the range was not up to spec, and the stray round passed through a tiny gap between the earthen berm and the wooden baffles where they should have overlapped.
Lesson #1: One-in-a-million does not mean impossible. If you're talking about a firing range where thousands of rounds fly each day, calling an event "one in a million" is just a measure of how often it will happen. As they say, if you're a one-in-a-million kind of guy, there are 1,200 folks in China just like you.
Lesson #2, as you point out: always, ALWAYS, check your backstop.