Forums / Off Topic / Gun club, police chief indicted in boy's Uzi death

7 years 22 weeks ago, 6:06 PM

samD

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Gun club, police chief indicted in boy's Uzi death

By STEPHANIE REITZ, Associated Press Writer Stephanie Reitz, Associated Press Writer – WBZ Boston – Police Chief, Gun Club Indicted In Boy's Uzi Death
Gun club, 3 others charged in boy's Uzi death AP AP – In this photo taken Oct. 29, 2005, Dominic Spano, front, of New Milford, Conn., and his son, Michael … SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Three men, including a small-town police chief, were indicted Thursday on involuntary manslaughter counts in the gun-fair death of an 8-year-old who accidentally shot himself in the head with an Uzi that a prosecutor said he never should have been allowed to handle.

The club where the fair was held also was charged. The fair had promised shooters would have certified instructors in an advertisement, but District Attorney William Bennett said the child, Christopher Bizilj, was supervised by an uncertified 15-year-old boy.

Christopher, of Ashford, Conn., lost control of the 9mm micro submachine gun as it recoiled while he was firing at a pumpkin Oct. 26 at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club in western Massachusetts.

Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury was charged because he owns the sponsor of the gun fair, COP Firearms & Training. Two men who brought the automatic weapon to the show, Carl Guiffre of Hartford, Conn., and Domenico Spano, of New Milford, Conn., also were indicted.

An involuntary manslaughter conviction carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and $1,000 fine. The term could be five years or less for someone with no prior convictions.

Fleury and the club also were indicted on four counts each of furnishing a machine gun to a minor. A conviction on each count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines and the loss of a firearms license for at least 10 years.

Bennett said prosecutors know of at least four children, including Christopher, who fired automatic weapons at the fair. He added that Fleury had wrongly assured Guiffre and Spano that it was legal for children to use the Uzi under Massachusetts law.

"A Micro Uzi is made by and for the Israeli Armed Forces and is intended to meet the operational needs of Israeli Special Forces," Bennett said, noting that the weapon has a rate of fire of 20 to 25 rounds per second. "It is not a hunting weapon."

Thomas Drechsler, an attorney for the club, said it continues to extend its "deepest sympathy" to the Bizilj family, but denies any wrongdoing. He said neither the club nor any member gave the Uzi to Christopher or any children, and weren't in the immediate area when the accident happened.

"The club is disappointed by the indictment," he said. "The club's intention is to plead not guilty and the club denies they participated in any criminal act."

Fleury, Guiffre and Spano did not immediately return calls for comment.

The machine gun shoot drew hundreds of people to the sporting club's 375-acre compound. An advertisement said it would include machine gun demonstrations and rentals and free handgun lessons.

"It's all legal & fun — No permits or licenses required!!!!" reads the ad, posted on the club's Web site.

"You will be accompanied to the firing line with a Certified Instructor to guide you. But You Are In Control — "FULL AUTO ROCK & ROLL," the ad said.

The ad also said children under 16 would be admitted free, and both adults and children were offered free .22-caliber pistol and rifle shooting.

Christopher's father was 10 feet behind him and reaching for his camera when the child fired the weapon.

Bennett said Charles Bizilj (pronounced bah-SEAL') had selected the compact weapon for his 4-foot-3, 66-pound son to fire after he was assured it was safe. He had thought the Uzi's small size made it safer, but the opposite was true, the prosecutor said.

"Although it might appear a heavier or longer weapon would be more dangerous, the small size of the weapon together with the rapid rate of fire made it more likely that an 8-year-old would lose control and the muzzle of the weapon would come close to his face, which is what happened here," he said.

The father was not charged because he was a layman and based his decision on information from others who should have known it was too dangerous, Bennett said. The 15-year-old boy who was supervising Christopher with the Uzi also will not be charged, he added.

Christopher's family did not immediately return a call seeking comment. His father has said his son had experience firing handguns and rifles but the gun show was his first time with an automatic weapon.

Fleury, the police chief, has been on sick leave since the boy's death, according to Kim Leahey, administrative aide for the Pelham Board of Selectmen. Leahey said the board would have no statement on the indictment until it consults its attorneys.

Fleury is one of two full time officers in Pelham. In a statement issued shortly after the accident, the board said Fleury's company was a "purely personal pursuit" and not subject to their approval.

7 years 22 weeks ago, 6:28 PM

Anonymous

dumbass!

lack of good judgement results in a death and trouble for people involved

7 years 22 weeks ago, 6:31 PM

DEMO

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Unreal

Safety anyone. I feel for the family but the dad needs to do some time along with the range Msgt. Someone needs to be overlooking the range. This make all 2nd amendment guys look bad.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do
7 years 21 weeks ago, 8:03 PM

Reaper308

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exactly why 8 yr. olds

exactly why 8 yr. olds should not shoot sub machine guns

"Proelium Comminus Auctoritate" "Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a muzzle flash."
7 years 21 weeks ago, 8:27 PM

ssrs10

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yea

This happend right near where I live....it totally blew my mind....why anyone would hand an 8 year old that weapon and say go nuts kid is beyond my comprehension....what a terrible thing that poor child.....not to mention how terrible it is for publicity for the entire gun rights cause.....

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses
7 years 21 weeks ago, 10:00 AM

samD

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This is an absolute

tragedy for all concerned. Letting a 15 yr old guide an 8 yr old is insanity. This will probably have something to do with the demise of Gun Shows. Thank you asshole!
samD

7 years 21 weeks ago, 2:13 PM

Anonymous

i heard an 10 year old shot himself in the head while shooting a tec-9

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