Criminal Charges in Death of Boy Who Shot Himself at Gun Show

A police chief and a Massachusetts gun club have been indicted for involuntary manslaughter in the death of an 8-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself with a Uzi at an October gun expo in Massachusetts.

Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury owns COP Firearms & Training, which sponsored the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo at the Westfield Sportsman's Club, where 8-year-old Christopher Bizilj accidentally shot himself in the head in October after losing control of the 9 mm Micro Uzi submachine gun.

In addition to the manslaughter indictments, Fleury and the Westfield Sportsman's Club were also indicted on four counts each of furnishing a gun to a minor.

Two other men, Carl Guiffre of Hartford, Conn., and Domenico Spano, of New Milford, Conn., also face involuntary manslaughter charges. Messages left at the listed phone numbers of both men were not returned Thursday afternoon, and their involvement in the youngster's death was unclear.

christopher bizilj

Christopher's father, Dr. Charles Bizilj of Ashford, Conn., and a firearms instructor were standing nearby when Christopher accidently shot and killed himself.

"The firearm instructor prepped the weapon for him, and once it was ready he handed it to the child," Westfield Police Lt. Hipolito Nunez told shortly after the accident.

Christopher then pulled the trigger, and the gun's recoil pulled the barrel upward, causing a round to hit him on the right side of his head, according to Nunez. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Baystate Medical Center in nearby Springfield. He died from a single gunshot to the right side of his head.

A woman who answered the phone at Charles Bizilj's office at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, Conn., where he is the director of emergency medicine, said he would have no comment on the indictments.

Messages left for Fleury, Guiffre and Spano were not immediately returned. The Web sites for both COP Firearm & Training and the Westfield's Sportman's Club have been taken down, but the flier for the expo is still available on the Internet.

The flier advertised that it was "all legal and fun -- no permits or licenses required."

Targets listed on the flier included pumpkins, vehicles and "other fun stuff we can't print here!"

Pelhman Police Lt. Jerry Thomann told today that the department wasn't commenting on Fleury's status there, but said that he was now the acting chief.

Still More Questions

Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners' Action League, which advocates for gun owners' rights in Massachusetts, said it was difficult for him to comment on the indictments because "we still don't' know what happened."

Wallace said it's still unclear to him under exactly what circumstances Christopher was shot and who was standing where.

"If things were done wrong, we will certainly be one of the first ones in line to say, 'What the hell were you thinking," he said today. "It's going to be interesting to see what the charges are based on."

Massachusetts law allows a child to fire a gun with parental consent, so long as there's an active permit for the gun and a licensed firearm instructor is supervising. It is unclear whether the gun had a permit or whether the instructor was licensed, but Nunez said Christopher's father was nearby.

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