LOVEJOY, Ga. — A man is in Clayton County Jail after police said he triggered a bizarre sequence of events. When it ended, he had accidentally shot himself, along with three other customers inside a busy Walmart, all with a single bullet.
Police said it all started when a man dropped his loaded gun and as he tried to catch it, the gun went off. Now four people are hurt, and a reminder over gun safety is back in the spotlight.
Sunday afternoon was all but quiet for Walmart shoppers in Lovejoy.
“That’s crazy," Reinaldo Taylor said. “It’s just kind of scary. You go somewhere, and you might get shot.”
"I’ve been in law enforcement for 14 years, and this is the first time I’ve heard that," Sgt. Akeem Turnbull said.
Lovejoy Police Department Sgt. Akeem Turnbull said the bizarre incident happened in the deli section just before 12:30 p.m.
“He had a loaded firearm that was not in a holster in his waistband that fell," Turnbull said. "He attempted to grab the firearm, and while handling the firearm, discharged it, and struck him in the leg.”
However, it didn't end there.
“The bullet ricocheted, and subsequently struck three other patrons that were inside the business," Turnbull said.
All three customers struck by the ricocheting bullet are female, according to police. Two are middle-aged, and one is in her 70s.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of something like that. I’ve never heard of a bullet ricocheting and hitting three or four people," said Demetrius Wilson, a Walmart customer.
Experts at Range, Guns, and Safes in Atlanta said the most important part of gun safety is making sure the weapon is in its holster.
"The situation is what it is. It sucks that it wasn't avoided. I just hope this urges people, if they are caring, to think twice about what they're doing when they are out there," said Tony Lawrence, assistant manager at Range, Guns, and Safes.
“I can’t believe someone would walk around carrying a gun without a holster regardless of the laws. That doesn’t make sense," Wilson said.
Gun safety experts also said you can buy what's known as defensive ammunition. It basically turns into a mushroom shape and stops moving when it hits something. Otherwise, the bullet will keep on ricocheting like it did in this situation.
"Had he been carrying defensive ammunition, it's a very, very good chance that nobody would have got hurt other than him, of course," Lawrence said.
The 29-year-old man now faces reckless conduct charges.
“Make sure you know when you’re handling or manipulating a firearm that you know what you’re doing, that it’s done safely, and it’s not in a crowded area," Turnbull said.
The gun owner and one of the women shot were taken to Grady Hospital, and the other two customers ended up being treated at the scene. All were struck in their leg and are expected to be okay.