Oran boy shoots girl with pellet

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mother of the victim only wanted the boy warned, but police say they had to arrest him.

ORAN, Mo. -- The mother of an Oran girl who was shot in the back with a pellet gun said she didn't want the shooter arrested but acknowledged the police followed the proper procedures in doing so.

On Wednesday, a 12-year-old boy shot Nancy Pitts' 9-year-old daughter, causing a small red mark on her back.

The officer later handcuffed and arrested the boy, who was found in possession of the gun at the Freedom Gameroom in Oran, said police chief Marc Tragesser.

Pitts said she disagrees with the law that required the police to arrest the boy.

Her mother, Gloria Sauceda, informed police of the incident on Wednesday and expected patrolman Andy Childers to issue a verbal warning.

"I feel," Pitts said, "that discipline at the home and taking the gun away was what should have happened." She didn't hear about the incident until an hour after police were called.

Pitts, 29, visited the police station on Friday, she said, and read that police were obligated to follow through with the arrest.

"Oran just has a problem with knowing that times have changed," Tragesser said. Incidents "have to be taken seriously, not to the extreme."

Verbal warnings were common practice with former police chief Howard Stevens, Sauceda said, which is why she expected the same. She said the boy wasn't malicious and was just playing.

"He was being a little boy trying to play tough guy to two little girls," Sauceda said.

Police requested only the charge of firing a weapon within city limits, Tragesser said. The boy could have faced assault and unlawful use of a weapon.

Only 16-year-olds and older can legally possess the gun, he said. The 9 mm pellet gun could easily be mistaken as real, he said, and it uses 6 mm plastic bullets, as stated on the package.

Tragresser said small towns have seen children move away from playing cowboys and Indians and into hurting other children and even their teachers.

Since the alleged incident occurred as the children were walking home from school, officers are also investigating whether the boy had the gun at school, and penalties would fall to school officials, Tragesser said.

Police did not release the name of the boy or his family.


Pellet gun injuries

* Each year in the United States, approximately 30,000 people with BB and pellet gun-related injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments.

* Ninety-five percent of the injuries are BB or pellet gunshot wounds.

* Five percent are other types of injuries (lacerations sustained inadvertently while cleaning or shooting a gun or contusions resulting from being struck with the butt of a gun).

* Eighty-one percent of people treated for BB and pellet wounds are 19 years or younger.


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