Child shot when dad, under influence, ‘irresponsibly handled’ AR-15, police say

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 12:05 PM EST
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A Port St. Lucie girl is recovering after a police report said she was shot on the day before Thanksgiving when her “extremely negligent” father, who was under the influence of alcohol, “irresponsibly handled” an AR-15 rifle.

Daniel Weber, 35, a St. Lucie County deputy, is facing charges of aggravated child abuse, using a firearm while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, and culpable negligence.

According to Weber's arrest report, Port St. Lucie police officers responded to a home on Lakehurst Drive just after 3 p.m. on Nov. 23.

Weber smelled of an "alcoholic beverage" and was taken to the Port St. Lucie Police Department for questioning, the arrest report stated.

Detectives said Weber told them he had wanted to show his son, who is under 18 years old, how to clean Weber's AR-15 rifle. Weber said they sat down on a sofa and Weber put the gun on a "TV tray."

The tray fell forward, along with the gun, and when the rifle hit the ground, it fired a shot, striking Weber's underage daughter in the "left hip/lower abdomen," the arrest report said.

Weber applied pressure to his daughter's wound and called 911.

The victim was taken to a local hospital where she needed "immediate surgery and extensive care," according to the arrest report.

The report stated that Weber told detectives he had removed the magazine from the AR-15 and had checked it for ammunition before bringing it to the living room, adding that he had "believed the firearm to be empty."

Weber said he was "experienced at handling firearms" and he had "handled several different types/calibers of firearms for several years," the report said. He admitted, however, that the rifle's safety was not on.

According to the arrest report, Weber's son told detectives "his father drinks every day" and "his father typically has a few beers and few mixed drinks before work, and then maybe a couple more on his days off."

Weber's son said that on the day of the shooting, Weber "maybe had two beers and like three mixed drinks" and "began drinking around noon," the arrest report stated.

A mixed drink was whiskey and lemonade in a large Yeti cup, Weber's son said.

According to police, Weber told detectives he had drank "approximately six beers" on Nov. 23.

Port St. Lucie police said Weber's actions were "extremely negligent" and the firearm was "irresponsibly handled."

The arrest report stated that Weber "failed to provide appropriate supervision for several minor children by consuming several alcoholic beverages and making the decision to willfully handle a large caliber firearm."

The police department said Weber's daughter continues to recover from her injuries.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said that Weber has been placed on administrative leave as a result of the incident. Sheriff Ken Mascara said Weber was using his personal firearm when the child was shot.

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