Any story that begins with people “playing” with guns is doomed from the start. This one is no exception.
Florida resident Justin Holt was tragically shot and killed on Monday while he and his girlfriend were playing with their friend’s handgun. According to Florida news station WPBF, Holt and his friends were dry-firing the gun at each other for fun earlier in the day. After the friends were done playing with the gun, the gun’s owner loaded the weapon and set it on a table.
Holt’s girlfriend Erin Steele never saw the gun’s owner reload the weapon. About two hours later, she picked the gun up, pointed it at Holt, and fired. Instead of the hearing the quiet click of a dry-fire, she saw her boyfriend fall to the ground in pain. She’d shot him in the chest.
Friends called 911 immediately for help.
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“Please help me, ma'am!” a man is heard saying on the 911 call. “There was an accident; there was a very bad accident. Someone picked up my firearm by mistake, ma'am, and someone got shot. Please, please come.”
EMS forces arrived at the scene within minutes and took Holt to nearby Delray Medical Center. Their rescue efforts were in vain, though, as Holt died soon after arriving at the hospital.
Boca Raton police interviewed all witnesses of the shooting. Everyone present gave the same account of events and confirmed that the shooting was absolutely an accident. Holt’s family spoke to the media and said they want no charges pressed against Steele.
“We have a lot of compassion for her because she's got to live with that, no matter what she does, for the rest of her life,” Holt's grandfather, 82-year-old Michael DiFiore, told the Sun Sentinel.
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Holt’s mother says the two were very much in love, and that a tragedy like this is punishment enough for Steele.
“They met and then that was it, they were together,” mother Maria Holt said. “From day one — day one — he was in love with her.”
As heartbreaking as Holt’s death is, he is far from the first person to be killed in an accidental shooting even this year. According to Policy Mic, accidental shootings killed 851 Americans in 2012.