ORANGEVILLE, Pa. – Police intend to charge a gun show vendor who accidentally shot a woman while demonstrating a concealed carry wallet holster.
Geoffrey Hawk, 44, of Warminster, should face a reckless endangerment charge, Bloomsburg police Officer Brad Sharrow said Monday. The Columbia County district attorney still has to approve the charge.
Krista Gearhart, 25, was shot in the thigh on Saturday at the Eagle Arms Gun Show at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds in central Pennsylvania. She was treated at a hospital and released.
Gearhart told the (Bloomsburg) Press Enterprise on Sunday that the vendor was "doing his job" and her heart goes out to him for what she called the "horrible accident."
But Sharrow told The Associated Press on Monday that Hawk displayed "gross negligence."
"He admitted it was his fault and certainly feels bad about what took place. But the guy's a firearms instructor so he should've known better than to pull the trigger on a weapon" without checking to make sure it was unloaded, Sharrow told the AP.
Hawk did not immediately return phone messages Monday.
Reckless endangerment is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Authorities said the dealer told officers that he thought the gun was unloaded, and that he had done the same demonstration about 20 times without incident before the shooting. He said he had left the gun on display while he completed background checks on several customers, and that it was possible someone loaded the weapon when he was busy.
The show had a sign at the entrance saying "No Loaded Weapons," and organizer Joel Koehler said his staff checks all guns to ensure they are unloaded before they are brought in for display. He said Saturday's shooting was the first at any show he has held at the fairgrounds or anywhere else.
Gearhart told the Bloomsburg newspaper that the bullet missed the arteries and bone in her thigh, passing right through, and all doctors had to do was clean out the wound and dress it.
"God was clearly standing there with me," said Gearhart, who was able to attend Sunday services at the Shiloh Bible Church near Bloomsburg.
On the way to church, she asked her husband and mother when the show opened Sunday -- but they told her she should probably skip it.
"I had found a Ruger I really liked," she said, but never had a chance to buy it since she was rushed to the hospital. "So I guess we're still on the market."
Gearhart said "it's very ironic" to be shot at a gun show, but added that if there's another gun show in Bloomsburg next year, she and her husband will be there.