SPARKS, Nev. -- A popular gun, on our city streets, and it doesn’t have a common safety measure, as one man found out in the Sparks Century 14 theaters.
Six weeks ago, a single shot rang out inside the theater.
Sparks Police investigators immediately called Fernando Eagleheart’s shooting an accident, and left it to the City Attorney to decide whether to charge him with anything.
The city is charging him with discharging a firearm on public streets. (NRS 202.280) But KOLO 8 News Now has uncovered proof that there’s a very popular gun out there which can accidentally fire.
56-year-old Fernando Eagleheart was getting ready to watch The Bourne Legacy when a single shot rang out inside the theater.
A shot which came from his own Walther PPK.
Eaglehart wants people to know, “I’m a very abiding citizen.”
In fact, he has an elite military career, “I handled weapons in the military. And being armed security in California, Pinkerton Security. I handle the gun very well.”
Which is why, when he shot himself, he was so surprised.
“I love that gun so much,” Eagleheart says, “They call it the Rolls Royce of the pocket pistol.”
He purchased the gun from a local store in 2011, not knowing that in 2009 Smith and Wesson, the US distributor for Walther firearms, issued a recall on the pistol for: accidentally firing.
Ironically, Eagleheart found out his weapon was unsafe from the very people who are charging him.
“The City Attorney Office,” he says, “told me that ‘don't you know your PPK has a recall?’ No!”
A bullet is only fired from any gun when the firing pin iside hits the back of the casing.
The firing pin gets its motion from the hammer.
And with a double action semi-automatic, hammers remain de-cocked.
But, the Walther PPK’s hammer can still depress about one-sixteenth of an inch when the safety is off.
So, we put Eagleheart’s gun to the test with Sierra Firearms’ Mike Robbins. A gun expert with 27 years at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Eleven as the department’s Range Master. Duties of that position include everything gun related: being in charge of the range, in charge of training, in charge of all deputies’ qualification shoots. Robbins was in charge of all gun related academy training for that period of time, as well as special team training.
Robbins used an empty, primed casing of a bullet and loaded Eagleheart’s gun. Then took a plastic mallet to the back.
"So with the safety off, if we tap the hammer, it should pop that. (The gun pops.) Whoala. Drop the gun, it goes bang."
Robbins says dropped guns are not at all uncommon, “It happens probably weekly across the country, daily across the world. Some guns have enough safety features built in with firing pin safeties to prevent that. So if they're dropped they won't go off. This one does not."
Robbins who is a USPSA Master Class shooter says, "I have not used one of these guns, so I was not aware that it did not have a firing pin safety in it. So I would've carried it the same way."
KOLO 8 News Now did approach the Sparks City Attorney’s office and asked them for an interview regarding this story. Representatives declined an interview, but did say the office will continue to pursue Fernando Eagleheart’s case because they believe he was negligent.
Robbins says this is not a case of negligence at all, “In this case, it was an accident. Fell out of the man's pocket, fell on the floor, and went off. Shot him. And I think he's paid the price for that pretty much already… If you've handled guns for any length of time, you're going to have dropped a gun somewhere along the way. It's just a matter of course. It happens. Just like dropping your cell phone."
Eagleheart's arraignment is this Wednesday, October third.