COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Columbus Police say the man who accidentally fired his gun outside the Mi Hacienda restaurant Wednesday night has come forward.
Police Chief Fred Shelton says that 22-year-old Justin Bishop is charged with shooting into a dwelling after his handgun went off and sent a bullet inside the restaurant.
Chief Shelton says the incident demonstrates how vital observing proper gun safety is in states like Mississippi that have open carry laws.
“Treat every gun as if it’s loaded,” the chief says. “Don’t put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to shoot something.”
Police say Bishop was sitting at one of the tables outside when it suddenly went off while he was handling it.
“A public place, that’s not the place to display a weapon,” Chief Shelton says. “A person has a legal right to have a weapon but (not) to pull it out to show off.”
Fortunately, no one was hurt.
“The shot was upward away from where people were sitting, so it was up higher,” Chief Shelton says. “At this time, it doesn’t look like anyone was in any immediate danger.”
Bishop fled the scene, leaving his wallet and gun permit behind.
“It was a big bang, so everyone is trying to figure out what was going on,” Mi Hacienda general manager Rodolfo Hernandez said Wednesday as he described the scene inside. “Everybody saw that it was a bullet hole in the window. ”
Chief Shelton says the Oktibbeha County Jail called Thursday morning to them that Bishop turned himself in. While the CPD is still investigating what exactly Bishop was doing with his gun, the police chief says there is never a situation where a civilian should be casually showing off a gun in public.
“If I want to show someone a weapon, I would take them to a range or take them to an area where there’s nobody around,” he says.
For those who do open carry, Chief Shelton says they should also make sure they keep their guns in a secure holster.
“In law enforcement, we have a triple retention holder,” he says. “It has a strap and a catch that I have to use to take my weapon out.”
Chief Shelton also recommends that gun owners familiarize themselves with a new firearm before they even have it around another person.
“I would hope that when people buy weapons, they will go somewhere and get a gun class and learn safety,” he says.
Bishop’s bond hearing is set for Tuesday and his gun remains in police custody. Those interested in the Columbus Police Department’s free gun safety course should call 662-244-3528.