SAVANNAH, GA (March 23, 2012): The stories are vague and varied and don’t seem to be subsiding as Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police respond to what turn out to be accidental, self-inflicted gunshot injuries.
Three incidents in three days in which men in their teens shot themselves and reported they were shot by someone else have brought the number of accidental self-inflicted gunshot wounds to seven so far this year. In five of those cases, the victim at first reported he was shot by someone else.
Dequan Jefferson, 17, reported Wednesday night he was shot in the arm by a masked gunman in a robbery attempt. Confronted with conflicting evidence at the hospital later, he admitted he was playing with a rifle and the gun went off.
On Thursday about 10 p.m. , a 14-year-old boy reported he was riding his bicycle near Waters Avenue and 55th Street when he heard gunshots and realized he was shot. He later admitted he had picked up a gun hidden in the state street area and was looking at it when it went off and struck him.
An hour later, Corey Cooper, 18, was found lying on the 700 block of Columbus Drive with a wound on his thigh. At first he declined to comment, and then said he was shot by someone he had argued with earlier. When confronted with evidence later, he admitted shooting himself and throwing the gun away.
Police stress that guns are dangerous and urge residents to use care. And they point out that lying about an embarrassing situation can only bring on more problems. Police will respond in mass to a reported shooting, canvassing the area for suspects and clues, taking up valuable patrol time and putting both officers and citizens in dangerous situations. That could lead to charges being filed against the victim for making false statements and reports.
Deshawn King, 17, reported Feb. 15 he was walking near Alaska Street and Treat Avenue when four men rode by in a car and shot him. Police found a hole in his jacket pocket and the trajectory of the bullet went straight through his foot from top to bottom. He continued to insist he was shot by others and was charged with false statements and false reports of a crime.
“Too many people are picking up guns with no training and it is dangerous to both themselves and anyone around them.” said Major Larry Branson, commander of the SCMPD Criminal Investigations Division. “We spend an inordinate amount of time teaching our officers how to handle guns safely for that reason.
“It only adds to the problem when victims lie to us. It takes up valuable resources that could be spent maintaining the safety of the community, and the charges that could be filed against the victim for lying will only make his situation worse.”
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