An Orange Park man's heart was perforated by a pellet fired from a pellet gun being handled by a friend at a home on the Westside on Thursday night and he died early Saturday morning, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Homicide detectives responded to 8223 Hewitt Street about 11:15 p.m. to investigate a shooting. Charles Howey, 22, was transported to Shands Jacksonville Medical Canter, where he was in critical condition.
JSO spokesman Shannon Hartley said that with the advice o doctors, Howey's family decided to take him off life support, and he died early Saturday morning in the hospital.
Police say Howey (pictured, right) was with Corey Barnes, 21, and other friends playing around when the gun discharged. Family friends say the men were shooting at targets.
No charges were filed by police and the case is pending review by the state attorney’s office.
Pellet guns are not as harmless as they may sound, Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson said.
"If I had to describe it, it'd be like a BB gun on steroids," he said. "The pellets are larger than your regular BB, it has a little more power and kick."
Jefferson said people need to treat them as real guns because the dangers are very real.
"I have responded to calls throughout my career where a person's eye is out or a person has received serious injuries," Jefferson said.
Pellet guns are sold at local sporting goods stores and can be used for hunting. The pellets are small, but experts say can shoot out at 1,000 feet per second.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 3 million pellet guns sold each year in the United States, and they account for 25,000 injuries. On average, about four people are killed each year from some type of pellet gun.
Jefferson said to stay safe, people must be very careful with them, just like with any gun.
"You've got to always treat the weapon like it's loaded," Jefferson said. "Never point it at anyone, never play with it, never clean it while it's loaded because accidents can happen."