Salem gun show mishap brings community service
One of the two men involved in the accidental firing of a rifle must also pay a fine.
By Neil Harvey
Two men who were charged after a rifle was accidentally fired during a July gun show at the Salem Civic Center were ordered Tuesday to do community service. They must also make reparations to the civic center for the damage.
Police said David Jack Gold, 74, a gun dealer from Bland, was replacing the stock on his military-style rifle with his friend, Thomas Raymond Allen, 52, of Max Meadows, when the weapon went off and shot the floor. The bullet's impact sprayed bits of concrete into Allen's face and he was taken to a hospital for his injuries.
In Salem General District Court on Tuesday, Salem police Officer Mike Mills testified that Gold at first had said he'd bought the .308-caliber rifle from someone at the show but later admitted it was his gun and said he had brought it in through an entrance reserved for gun dealers.
Loaded guns were not allowed at the gun show. Firearms brought through the show's main entrance were inspected by show officials and tagged with zip-ties.
Gold testified he had test-fired the rifle days earlier and had not realized there was still a round in the chamber.
Allen told Salem Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Skip Lautenschlager that the loaded weapon was on display on Gold's table for seven hours and was handled by at least three other people, until he and Gold attempted to replace the stock.
Although he said he didn't recall touching the trigger, Allen admitted, "I must have."
Judge Vincent Lilley chided Gold for initially misleading the police and took both men to task for not ensuring that the gun wasn't loaded.
"Everybody knows you're supposed to know there's not a round down there" in the chamber, Lilley said, but said his concern was "more about what could have happened."
He convicted Gold of reckless handling of a firearm and fined him $250. He also ordered Gold to complete 40 hours of community service for a charge of obstruction of justice, which will be dismissed in a year if Gold complies.
Allen, who was charged with recklessly handling a firearm, must do 40 hours of community service. That charge also will be dismissed in a year if he completes the community service.
They also must pay $10 restitution to the Salem Civic Center for damage caused by the gunshot.
The rifle, Lilley said, will be held as evidence for a year and then destroyed.
Robert Steven Elliott, president of C&E Gun Shows, the event's promoter, said after the incident that Gold had been participating as a gun dealer in his show for 25 years. Dealers sign a contract that states they are not to have loaded guns in their booths and that they are responsible for the actions of people behind their table, he said.
The company will host another gun show at the civic center later this month. Gold has been barred from the show and C&E's upcoming events, Elliott said.