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West Bend man shot, injured after neighbor discharges rifle

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WEST BEND (WITI) -- A West Bend man was lying on his couch on Tuesday, March 4th, when he was struck by a bullet. Police say the man who fired shots lives in the apartment downstairs.

FOX6 News spoke with a neighbor who heard the gunshot and stayed with the victim until law enforcement officials arrived on scene. He says the suspect was there as well, and kept apologizing for the incident.

It happened at an apartment on Vogt Drive. Neighbors there say they can hardly believe what happened.

"I'm shocked, I'm scared, I'm appalled. I'm just hoping that everybody is okay," Tania Adornato said.

Justin Vargas was in his apartment when it happened.

"I heard an explosion. I heard it and then I ran out of my apartment. I saw a man running upstairs," Vargas said.

A subsequent investigation determined that a 20-year-old male resident in a lower level apartment had negligently discharged an AR-15 rifle while handling the weapon. The man reportedly told neighbors he was cleaning the weapon when it went off.

According to police, the bullet traveled through the ceiling of the apartment and into a second floor unit, grazing man who was lying on the couch.

Police say the man shot in this case is 32 years old. He suffered a laceration to his abdomen.

"He was bleeding pretty bad," Vargas said.

Vargas says the man came into the hallway with a rag pressed against his stomach.

"I told him to just sit down on the floor, and had him sit against the wall upstairs. I didn't want him to go into shock or to stop breathing or anything like that," Vargas said.

The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment. There, he was listed in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, the man accused of firing the shot says it was an accident.

"The victim was always constantly being told from the shooter 'I'm very sorry. I'm very sorry.' He was very apologetic," Vargas said.

The 20-year-old man was arrested on charges of injury by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon and possession of a switchblade knife.

It's something neighbors say shouldn't have happened.

"If he was cleaning the gun, yeah, I don't see why you'd have the gun loaded or just handling it in general, I don't see why you'd have it loaded," Ben Kanas said.


  • 2econd

    “It’s something neighbors say shouldn’t have happened”
    that is correct, it shouldnt have happened, but, there are car accidents caused every day because of stupidity that also “shouldnt have happened” are we going to arrest those people as well? I think he should be on the hook for damages, and fined, but arrested? thats going to far..

    • Common Sense

      Yes, accidents do happen. But any idiot that attempts to clean a firearm when it is loaded should not own one…period. AND…you should handle a firearm as though it is always loaded even if you are certain it is not.

      • 2econd

        so any idiot that causes an accident shouldnt own a vehicle? any time you involve humans, there will be human error. I agree it gives gun owners a bad rep. and I agree that one should handle a weapon as though it is always loaded. how does one ram into the rear end of a lit up squad car on the freeway? i dont understand that either, yet it has happened multiple times as of late.

  • DaveL

    He was not ‘cleaning the gun’. To clean a gun, you disassemble it. Assuming you skipped the first step (namely, unloading the gun), the very next step in stripping an AR-15 is to pull out the rear takedown pin and rotate the upper receiver away from the lower receiver. This physically separates the firing pin from the hammer, making it impossible to fire. “I was cleaning it and it went off” is to firearms what “I slipped in the shower” is to random objects lodged where the sun doesn’t shine.

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