One man is dead and two people have been charged in connection with a crime that has left South Carolina police and investigators baffled and saddened by a stunt gone wrong.
Blake Randall Wardell, 25, from the rural town of Honea Path, South Carolina, was hanging out with a group of friends when he decided it would be a good idea to personally test out a bulletproof vest they had found in a garage, reports WYFF.
He put the vest on and then asked one of his two friends to shoot him as proof the Kevlar clothing worked, reports NBC News.
Although he likely expected the friend with the gun to aim carefully for the part his body that was protected, Wendell's friend instead missed the bulletproof part of the vest. The bullet went through a thinner section and pierced the man's heart, killing him.
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"It wasn’t a fight," Anderson County Deputy Coroner Don McCown said, reports The Huffington Post. "They were actually going to take a shot at the vest. They were going to shoot the victim with the vest on. And he was shot in the chest, just above the vest."
Several people tried performing CPR on Wardell, including deputies, but he died at the scene.
The initial report suggested the gun was fired by Taylor Ann Kelly, 18, of Anderson, South Carolina. Kelly told police after the incident that she was the one who aimed the gun and accidentally killed Wardell after he asked her to shoot him. She was held for two days and then charged with involuntary manslaughter.
But shortly after, Kelly changed her story. After the coroner found that Wardell's heart had been struck by a small-caliber round, evidence pointed to a second shooter.
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Kelly admitted to making up the story of killing Wardell by accident, but the sheriff's office wouldn't say why she had lied initially.
Instead, Timothy Dwayne Fisher, 25, of Anderson was charged with involuntary manslaughter, and the manslaughter charge against Kelly was dropped. Kelly, who is still in jail, has since been charged with accessory after the fact to a felony.
Involuntary manslaughter could lead to five years in prison, if Fisher is found guilty.
On social media, many joked about the young man's death.
As one Reddit user put it: "That Dude: 0 Natural Selection: 1."
"Play stupid games. Win stupid prizes," said another.
The Gun Violence Archive, which collects information from more than 2,000 sources, notes that more than 450 people had died in unintentional shootings in the U.S. in the first three months of 2017.