Man discharges firearm to solicit help with stranded car near river

A man fired his handgun into the ground after getting his car stuck near the Gila River on Friday.

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – A man fired his handgun into the ground multiple times in an area north of the Copper Canyon subdivision on Friday in an effort to attract attention to the plight of his stranded car.

While some people may use a cell phone or walk to the nearby neighborhood and approach a residence for assistance or the use of a phone, this driver instead decided to fire multiple rounds from his .45 caliber Colt Commander ACP 1911 into the ground and yell loudly.

A resident in Copper Canyon heard the shots and yelling and called the police to request a welfare check.

A deputy arrived at about 5:35 p.m. to a location north of Copper Canyon near the Gila River and discovered a man standing near a white car that was high-centered. Another man was also found in the area and was assisting the driver to free the car.

When questioned, the driver admitted to shooting his gun into the ground to get someone’s attention because he was stuck. The man pointed to his handgun, which was in the driver’s side door, and advised it was the weapon he used. The deputy checked the gun to verify it wasn’t stolen and noted it was unloaded. The deputy also located several empty .45 caliber brass casings on the ground in front of the car.   

According to Arizona Revised Statute 13-3107, a person who with criminal negligence discharges a firearm within or into the limits of any municipality is guilty of a Class-6 felony. Exceptions include if a firearm is used on a properly supervised range, to lawfully take wildlife, in the performance of duties by law enforcement, in self-defense or defense of others, or if it takes place more than one mile from any occupied structure.

The city of Safford also has its own weapons violation with City Code 9.16.00 stating no person shall negligently or purposely discharge any firearm within the city limits and has basically the same exemptions as the state.

Since the incident took place in the desert far enough away from an occupied structure, the deputy simply stood by as the men freed the car and then left the scene.  

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