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Hazel Park

Assault rifle accidentally goes off, almost hits senior

Bullet penetrated two houses and missed woman by an inch

March 26, 2014

HAZEL PARK — A 72-year-old Hazel Park woman was lying in bed when a 7.62 mm bullet pierced her wooden headboard and pillow, missing her head by an inch.

The incident occurred around 8:45 p.m. March 16 at a home in the 50 block of West Woodward Heights. Police responded to a call about a woman possibly being shot.

“We were fortunate no one was hurt,” said Hazel Park Police Chief Martin Barner.

Upon arriving at the scene, police were met by a neighbor who indicated that he had been cleaning his SKS assault rifle in the house next door when it inadvertently discharged. The bullet — the kind used in weapons such as the AK-47 — traveled through the wall of his house and then through the wall of his neighbor’s house. 

“The bullet went through an interior wall, out an exterior wall, into an exterior wall, through an interior wall, through a wooden headboard, through a pillow, through a wooden dresser drawer, and lodged itself in a piece of electronic equipment — a Walkman-type device,” Barner said.  “The victim was sleeping on her pillow at the time; we estimate the bullet was probably an inch or less from her head.”

The woman’s 52-year-old son was present in the household and heard her screaming, thinking she had been struck with something. He raced into the room and moved his mother into the hallway, not knowing where the round came from or if there would be more shots fired.

The woman was treated at the scene. It was determined she didn’t suffer any wounds; however, she was transferred to a local hospital due to elevated blood pressure and heart rate from the close call.

The man accused of firing the gun is Joshua Humphreys, 35, of Hazel Park.

“He said he checked the weapon multiple times to make sure it was unloaded,” Barner said. “He was found to be a previously convicted felon.”

It was found that the firearm was made up of several different types of firearms, with serial numbers on different components belonging to five separate guns, and police said that the bolt came back as reported stolen from Detroit in March 1994.

Humphreys was arrested and charged with felon in possession of a firearm, a five-year felony, and careless discharge of a firearm, a one-year felony. He was arraigned in Hazel Park 43rd District Court by Magistrate James Paterson March 18. He was given a $25,000 cash or surety bond.

A message seeking comment was left with his attorney, Karie Boylan.

“I think this incident brings attention to the fact that there are individuals in society that have no right to own or possess a firearm,” Barner said. “And no matter how careful you think you’re being while cleaning or handling a firearm, there is always the possibility it could be loaded and a terrible, tragic accident could occur. I think that all parties involved are extremely fortunate this didn’t end tragically.”

About the author

Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski covers Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Madison District Public Schools, Lamphere Public Schools and Hazel Park Public Schools for the Madison-Park News.

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