Accidental discharge of gun, bullet lands in Oceanway home

Man said daughter playing in area moments before gun went off

Published On: Apr 26 2012 11:44:35 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 27 2012 05:18:47 PM EDT
Gun
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Michael Cornell is said he is still shaken after a bullet went through the wall of his home.

"This is the hole," said Cornell. "That is supposed to be a concrete block fire wall, the filler you see now is from the man next door trying to repair it not realizing he was discharging the foam."

Cornell said the bullet came through his home on Wednesday night, after a neighbor in the adjoining townhouse who was cleaning his gun discharged the firearm by mistake. The bullet wound up on Cornell's staircase, minutes after his eight-year-old daughter was playing on the stairs with her friends.

"I can't provide a safe environment in my four walls. I am not protected by the law from someone putting a bullet into my house," he said.

Cornell said police came out to his home, but they couldn't do anything because the incident was ruled as an accident.

Channel 4 asked firearm rights attorney Eric Friday why that is and he said unless someone is physically injured, it can be tough.

"Accidents do happen and if nobody's hurt it's no harm no foul," said Friday. "Now the gentleman could be held responsible for the property damage. But that's a civil matter, not a criminal matter."

Channel 4 tried to speak with Cornell's neighbor, but no one answered the door. Out in front of the townhouse there's a truck with a bumper sticker that reads: "Gun Control means never having to say I missed you."

Channel 4 also got Cornell in touch with State Attorney Angela Corey, who he said was very helpful.

"She has agreed to meet me at courthouse at 10 a.m. tomorrow to walk me through hopefully getting a restraining order or injunction. If that occurs all weapons in his house have to be removed," said Cornell.

Cornell wrote a letter to Mayor Alvin Brown detailing his ordeal and the mayor responded.

LETTER TO MAYOR ALVIN BROWN:

Dear Mayor,
I received a call from my family to be informed a neighbor fired a bullet into my home today. This is the second firearm offense this individual has performed on or into my property. I, as a responsible citizen, contacted the Jacksonville Sheriff's office in accordance with the law.
The responding officer did not arrest, or issue a citation to the known person who discharged the firearm. To quote this officer, "the law favors the gun owner and not those affected. As no one was injured, the law does not allow enforcement to apprehend or cite the offender."
I am awake at this hour as my daughter cannot sleep. My wife is not consolable given this event. By law, I have no avenue of recourse to prevent this person from repeating this event, unless I or my family are injured, or worse.

To state this is unacceptable is an understatement of epic proportions. I cannot ensure the safety of my family within the walls of my home within any reasonable expectations of the law, humanity, or common sense. I find this deplorable at every possible avenue.
With the current state of the economy, as many, I cannot sell my property without incurring a significant loss. More importantly, I cannot ensure my family has a decent night's rest in the home I have worked hard to provide.
I will attempt to lay my head down, knowing that I have no avenues of preventing the person adjacent to my home from potentially inflicting grievous bodily harm to my family by way of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling.

I implore you to please provide an avenue of recourse to extricate the offending individual from having the opportunity of repeating this incident in the name of humanity. A field report case number and photos are available of this event as needed.

Sincerely,

Michael Cornell
Hickory Oak Drive

LETTER FROM JACKSONVILLE MAYOR ALVIN BROWN:

Dear Mr. Cornell:

Thank you for taking the time to make me aware of your concerns.

Public safety is the number one responsibility of government, and it is my top priority as mayor. While the responsibility for law enforcement falls upon the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO), I have worked hard to make sure that our crime fighters have the tools they need to do their jobs. I am copying the Sheriff's Office on this email and am confident that they will respond appropriately.

As mayor, I look forward to receiving feedback from the community. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your ideas in the future.

Sincerely,

Alvin Brown
Mayor