McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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December 22, 2005

Gun goes off; four injured

Four people were injured Wednesday morning when a shotgun went off at the Pittsburg County Jail.

Three deputies and a jailer/dispatcher received minor injuries when a .12-guage shotgun went off into the floor of the dispatch office, according to officials. The officers had been trying to clear a Winchester Model 1911 S.I. shotgun when it went off and blew a hole in the floor.

Deputies Tom Steele, Mark Mitchell and Wesley Robinson and jailer/dispatcher Joe Calistro received treatment for their injuries at McAlester Regional Health Center and were released.

“They’re all back at work,” Undersheriff Richard Sexton said. “They’re fine.”

Calistro, Steele and Robertson were injured by shotgun pellets which ricocheted from the floor. Mitchell received cuts on his head when concrete fragments from the floor and ricocheting pellets blew out an overhead light.

The shotgun, which deputies said was different than any they were familiar with, was among firearms seized when officers answered a call in the Crowder area.

Deputies had initially answered a call about shots fired in a domestic dispute, Steele said, but found after they arrived that the initial report was wrong.

However, he said, since the man involved in the dispute was a convicted felon and was not allowed to own firearms, his wife voluntarily turned about seven or eight firearms over to deputies.

“We’d cleared all the others and were working on this one when it happened,” Steele said.

The Model 1911 S.I. requires the barrel to be moved to clear it. Deputies had already removed the magazine and were attempting to clear the chamber when it went off, officials said.

Steele and Robertson were wounded in the face. Calistro was wounded in the legs, Sexton said.

All three still carry some of the pellets in their bodies. “The treating physician stated they don’t usually remove pellets or fragments if there’s not immediate danger,” Sexton said, adding the doctor had said that removing the pellets could cause more damage than the pellets themselves.

“We’ve conducted an internal investigation and determined it was an accident,” Sexton said. “We will make a few changes to try to ensure this type of accident doesn’t happen again.”

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