[NOTE: This post has been updated and corrected. The comments below reflect the previous version, which assumed that FHP Officer Sheetz shot herself in the leg, possibly while re-holstering. TTAG apologizes for not assuming that early press reports got it completely wrong.]

“A Florida Highway Patrol trooper was accidentally shot during a weapons inspection Monday night,” wpbf.com revealed late last night. “The FHP said weapons instructor Mellow Scheetz was shot in the back of her leg during the weapons inspection at a Belle Glade shooting range. She was taken to Delray Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening. It was not immediately known how she was shot.” And now we know the 411 on the 911. sun-sentinel.com sets the record straight . . .

Scheetz, who works for FHP’s Fort Pierce district, was at the Belle Glade Correctional Training Facility just before 10 p.m. doing routine weapons inspections. A supervisor was inspecting a weapon when he accidentally discharged it and a round struck Scheetz, [Lt. Tim] Frith said.

The key word here is “routine.” One must assume that the officer who shot his colleague didn’t get to be a supervisor for the Florida Highway Patrol by exhibiting poor firearms safety. Assuming he practiced safe gun-handling hundreds if not thousands if not tens of thousands of times, why would he suddenly screw it up?

I don’t think he did. Not suddenly. While gun gurus tend to focus on stress-induced catastrophic safety failures—e.g., trigger finger issues in the heat of battle—there’s also a natural tendency towards a long, slow loss of discipline. I reckon that problem is due to a dangerous positive feedback loop.

I have safe gun handling habits so I became a weapons instructor. I’m a weapons instructor because I have safe gun handling habits. I instruct safe gun handling habits so I must have safe gun handling habits. And so on.

To avoid dangerous maybe even deadly complacency, a responsible gun owner must have humility. The best way to get that is to have it given to you by someone else. In other words, you have to train with someone outside your own feedback loop, an expert who will give you a no-holds-barred independent assessment of your gun handling skills.

The moment you think you’ve got it wired is the moment the mental connections start to fray. Which is why there’s no such thing as “enough” training. A responsible gun owner knows that they must guard against their greatest enemy: themselves.

 

 

 

 

29 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Unidentified FHP Supervisor (Updated and Corrected)

  1. Though I am a Glock advocate more than likely she had her finger on trigger and it was a Glock as they are standard Florida HP issue. There are some instances where you might be better off issuing your agency’s Glocks with the NY1 trigger. I have one in my Glock19. I am even a moderate fan of the Comminoli Glock safety for both officer safety(and safety in homes with children) in a scuffle and the fact if you are trained to put the safety on before holstering, then ADs like this are less (though not impossible)likely.

    • That’s why I don’t like the Glock system. It is safe only when you don’t put finger on the trigger. I prefer the positive control of a conventional safety which requires much more carelessness to get an accidental discharge.

      My handgun of choice is the Model 1911 45 auto. With two safeties it is a much “safer action” system then the Glock.

      (posted after the correction)

      • Yeah, the grip safety does a great job of preventing an accidental “bang.”

        The down side to the grip safety is long fingers. If you have the ball of your thumb on the slide safety, the grip safety will not disengage. Speaking from experience. Had to train myself to move my thumb further forward.

        I carry a 1911 myself and much prefer it to any other handgun I’ve every fired.

    • Read the dang story! The “she” was the trooper (Sheetz) who got shot by the “he” (the supervisor) . . . she didn’t have her finger on ANY trigger

  2. It could have been complacency or a lack of trigger disclipline. Or it could have been that gawd-awfully stoopid-looking Smokey the Bear hat cutting off all the blood to her brain. It’s a known side-effect of being a state trooper or drill instructor, but not to worry. They get workers comp for that.

  3. Then again, a cynical man might be tempted to think that the TV station got a call from the Florida Highway Patrol asking them to “tone it down” a bit. Obviously that’s not me because I believe everything I read.

    Until the point that the cop crosses over the divided 4 lane highway, driving 126 MPH, in day after thanksgiving traffic, while using his patrol computer for email, talking and texting his GF on the cell, without running lights or siren, going to a minor accident scene he wasn’t needed at, and kills two adorable teenage white girls – you can bet your ass the news will deliberately downplay the daily misconduct of the police.
    (Really. Matt Mitchell, IL State Patrol ~18 months or so ago.)

    He’d crashed before, had several complaints for grossly exceeding the prima facie speed limit without rolling code, but hey, whatcha gonna do. Fire a cop?

    On those rare occasions when it can’t just be vanished into the memory hole, it’s always minimized until the bitter end.

    Once it can no longer be hidden, it then becomes an ‘unforseeable tragedy’ and the cop is mildly if at all punished (compared to a non-cop) and the public is spoon fed propaganda about how the brass is ‘dedicated to eliminating those few bad apples that give us a bad name’ or some such.

  4. Please, please, PLEASE let her name be Mellow Scheetz! Can you imagine the $hit she’s gotten ever since the academy?

    It makes it SO MUCH better that she’s a weapons instructor, too. I’m guessing Farago’s right. It was a lapse of concentration and there but for the grace of God go I. She should just thank her lucky stars it hasn’t made YouTube yet.

    http://ow.ly/4f2Pd

  5. Oh, so it was more hazing. This time by her supervisor. It’s GOTTA have something to to with the Mellow Scheetz name thing.

  6. I know it’s not relevant to the officer (and I wish her a speedy recovery) but with a first name like “Mellow” I can’t help but wonder if she became a cop to piss off her hippie parents.

  7. #1- treat every gun as if it were loaded, ALWAYS.
    #2- never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
    #3- keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target and you have made the decision to fire.
    #4- always be sure of your target and whatever is aroundit, behind it, and in front of it.

    me thinks a few were neglected.
    that being said- I don’t know anyone (who has handled guns a few times) who has not had a negligent discharge. This just happens to be a considerably misfortunate one. Thank God it is not a life threatening injury.

    • that being said- I don’t know anyone (who has handled guns a few times) who has not had a negligent discharge. This just happens to be a considerably misfortunate one.

      Thing is, if you’re following at least three of the four rules, an ND isn’t going to cause any damage, except perhaps to the cleanliness of your shorts.

      You gotta break more than one to cause damage.

      • Precisely, which is WHY there are multiple rules – humans are inherently prone to failure. Speaking, I might add, as an NRA certified instructor.

        I am embarrassed to admit I had an AD… in a room full of friends, discussing the blocking of a movie scene involving firearms. For reasons unknown, the pistol I was handling at the time was loaded, and I pointed it at the far corner of the room while discussing a point of action in the movie, pulled the trigger and (as one of my friends noticed, but I never did) said “BANG”. The weapon, of course, made a much louder noise.

        The point being that while I failed the first rule, I instinctively followed the rest, and the worst result was a hole in the wall I had to DAP over and buy two cans of paint to fix (inner color and outer color). Other than horrified embarrassment and some minor home repair, no significant damage was done – because, even in a situation involving “multi-tasking” and many inputs, I would have never pointed the gun at anyone (even though I was *simulating* it).

        Right after the incident we all locked up the guns and went to a local bar to recover. This was about 15 years ago, and my friends still won’t let me live it down. As well they should; a sense of humility indeed! 🙂

        -MJ

    • I don’t know. I’ve been handling handguns for four or five years now, and have never had any kind of negligent discharge. And I shoot a few times a month. I’m extremely careful about gun handling, but no more than most other people I know.

  8. I also wonder if a (lack of) magazine disconnect safety may have played a part.

    Magazine disconnect safeties may be much reviled, but there have been enough cases of negligent discharge with the magazine removed (including at least one officer fatality) that you start to understand why they might not be such a bad idea.

    • There was a disconnect involved, but it was between the finger and the brain.

      Firearms are weapons. Handle them with all due care or the best-case scenario involves property damage.

  9. Re: the venerable 1911. Back in 1976 when I was in AIT at Fort Knox one of the recruits in the training cycle right behind us was shot in the leg by one of his Drill Sergeants. Someone managed to come off the range with a round in the chamber (BIG breakdown right there!), and the Sergeant didn’t properly clear the weapon when it was handed to him. We spent a few hours sitting in the sun on the concrete outside the Armor School that afternoon. Never did find out whether the one shot was the one who left the round in the chamber. Lots of retraining all ’round there, I expect.

  10. Somebody screwed up big time! There’s no reason to pull the trigger on a Glock, because there’s no exterior hammer to “close”. The proper sequence for weapons inspecton is; check weapon, return to officer; action open. Officer then closes action, inserts magazine, and holsters firearm. Cycle slide to charge firearm before going out on patrol (post inspection). What probobly happened is; insert magazine, close action, and then pull trigger (for why I don’t know!). Glocks are very vunerable to holstering fires; they’re guaranteed if you leave your finger on the trigger while re-holstering. Mag saftey wouldn’t make a difference here, and I doubt that no one didn’t notice a round in the chamber!

  11. A few years ago, there was an officer in one of our local colleges in Alabama who was reholstering her highly customized 1911 and apparently got her finger in where it didn’t belong. She was also what my Dad would call “broad in the beam” so that she ended up with a nice .45 cal. hole through her right cheek.

  12. If a citizen did this exact thing, wouldn’t they be arrested and investigated? If so…..let’s get going folks, arrest that guy!

  13. I will never understand why LEOs carry Glocks. You can’t lock ’em after you cock ’em. At the very least you need a snap in form fit plastic holster to keep that trigger guard sealed up from accidental fingers. It is far too easy to accidentally pull the scissor trigger, meaning it’s useless as a real “safety”.

    So they carry them uncocked, meaning they sometimes have to cock them under pressure of action.

    My Bersa Thunder is full conventional double action. I put one up the pipe, decock and then leave the safety catch on. To use it, I just draw, slap down the safety with a thumb, and then pull the first round double action, meaning a good stiff trigger that also discourages accidental discharge.

    So much safer than a Glock.

  14. In my Marine Corps experience, an accidental discharge is office hours (Article 15), and, if there are injuries, a court-martial. As a JAG, I had seen a number of these cases, all of which resulted in disciplinary proceedings

    I agree that modern handguns do not go off unless the trigger is to the rear; nor can any one be injured if thew weapon is pointed in a safe direction. Firearms mishaps cannot occur unless a series of safety protocols have been disregarded. There is never an excuse for for an accidental discharge with injuries.

    Let us ask our law enforcement brethren whether or not they would bring reckless endangerment or similar charges against a private citizen who shot someone by “accident” like this.

  15. It might be as simple as HE was checking out HER, ahem, stance, and the gun naturally followed his line-of-sight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *