Sleepy traveler mistakenly shoots self

OKEECHOBEE — A man who thought he was shutting off the alarm on his cell phone accidentally picked up his handgun and shot himself in the hand, stated a sheriff’s office report.

John Stalnaker, of Milledgeville, Ga., reportedly washed his hand then drove himself to Raulerson Hospital to have the gunshot wound to his left hand treated.

Deputy Daniel Eng, of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), stated in his report that Mr. Stalnaker arrived in Okeechobee around 3 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, and rented a room at the Flamingo Motel, 4101 U.S. 441 S. He then set the alarm on his cell phone for 7 a.m.

According to the deputy’s report Mr. Stalnaker then placed the cell phone on the night stand beside the bed in room 111. Mr. Stalnaker, 37, also placed his .40 caliber Glock handgun on that same night stand.

When the alarm went off, the man mistakenly picked up the hand gun and as he was trying to “shut off his alarm” he accidentally pulled the trigger and the gun discharged. The bullet entered the inside of the man’s hand just below the index finger. The bullet exited out the back of his hand.

Deputy Eng then traced the path of the .40 caliber round.

“There was a bullet hole in the east wall in the room. The bullet continued on into room 110 and struck the door frame on the south of room 110,” stated the deputy’s report. “The bullet stopped and is lodged in the door frame.”

The deputy went on to state he traced blood drops from the bed to the bathroom where Mr. Stalnaker cleaned the wound. Blood was also found in and around the sink, added the report.

A woman in room 110 apparently told the deputy she heard a loud bang around 7 a.m., then heard a man yell “Oh, my God!” The next thing she heard was water running, added the report.

Deputy Eng then talked to a woman who was staying in room 112. His report stated she, too, heard a loud bang around 7 a.m. but thought it was a door slamming shut. She reportedly told the deputy she didn’t hear anyone arguing, “or any other disturbance prior to the gunshot.”

The OCSO deputy ruled the shooting to be accidental.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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