Crime & Public Safety

Hilton Head guard shoots self in the foot; 2nd shooting accident this year in Palmetto Dunes

A security guard for Palmetto Dunes was taken to the hospital Oct. 14 after he accidentally shot himself in the foot while demonstrating firearm safety for another security officer, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office report.

The incident is the second accidental gun discharge reported by a security guard in the Hilton Head Island gated community this year.

Deputies responded at about 1:20 a.m. Oct. 14 on Queens Folly Road where they spoke with a security officer who said he was working at the south traffic gatehouse on Ocean Lane with the guard who shot himself, according to the report.

The guard said he was scheduled to qualify at the shooting range the following week to become an armed officer and was getting tips on loading and unloading his .40-caliber Glock 22 pistol from the other guard.

The guard had unloaded the gun and was about to reload it, with it pointed at the floor, when he "inadvertently discharged his weapon," the report said. The bullet went through his right boot and foot.

The guard later reached the main traffic gatehouse on Queens Folly Road and was transported to Hilton Head Hospital.

On Feb. 20, another Palmetto Dunes security officer accidentally fired her Glock pistol while disassembling the weapon to clean it, according to a Sheriff's Office report.

The bullet struck a file cabinet and was found inside it. No one was injured.

It was at the end of her 12-hour shift, she reported. She told deputies the slide would not come off after she had removed the magazine.

"I then pulled the trigger thinking that the slide would slide off, and a round discharged from the weapon hitting the top portion of the filing cabinet," according to the incident report.

After the Feb. 20 incident, all of the security guards had to undergo firearms training, according to Palmetto Dunes Chief of Security Jim Griner.

Griner said additional training will be required of all Palmetto Dunes security officers after the Oct. 14 incident, and other changes will be made.

"We take this very seriously and want to try to prevent this from happening," Griner said.

Some of the changes that Griner said would be coming to the department include allowing only certified firearms instructors to demonstrate weapon safety and care. He said all firearms training would occur at an off-site facility instead of within the gated community.

He also said security officers would no longer be allowed to unload firearms at the end of their shifts, to deter accidental discharges, and the department would look into different gun brands with better safety features.

Griner said other changes could be made, pending an administrative review of the most recent incident. He said the injured security guard was healing well.

Attempts to reach Palmetto Dunes administration for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Follow Caitlin Turner on Twitter at twitter.com/Cait_E_Turner.

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