Family of child struck by bullet fragments wants answers

by Meghann Garcia, managing editor

“Why did that man shoot me?” La Porte resident Autumn Flores said her 4-year-old son asked that question last week after his leg was struck by ricocheting bullet fragments at Garner State Park.

The injury was the result of the accidental discharge of a pistol carried by a retired lawman.

The boy, Cash Flores, and his 10-year-old sister, accompanied by an uncle, were at a dance at the state park on July 6. Liberty County Commissioner Greg Arthur’s gun discharged, striking him in the leg and causing fragments to hit the child as well as a 29-year-old male.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said the gun owner was lawfully carrying the gun. TPWD spokesperson Stephanie Garcia said the park allows concealed carry and open carry, although with open carry the gun must be holstered.

In this case, she said the park visitor had the gun in the waistband of his pants. When he felt it falling, he reached for it and the gun discharged.

Garcia said the investigation is still in preliminary stages and little information is available for release. She did not answer questions about possible citations or the type of gun involved. She said all parties are participating in the investigation.

Arthur, 70, is a two-term former sheriff in Liberty County and retired after 25 years in the Texas Highway Patrol. He has not answered telephone calls placed to his office or an email sent to his county email address; a county employee said he attended commissioners’ court on Tuesday, July 11, but would resume vacation afterward.

The 4-year-old was taken by ambulance to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, and from there he was transferred to University Hospital in San Antonio. Doctors surgically removed the bullet fragments from soft tissue in his left leg, near his knee. He was discharged on Saturday, according to his mother, and his first follow-up appointment took place Monday.

Arthur was taken to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, while the 29-year-old, a resident of Deer Park, refused treatment at the scene.

Throughout the summer, family-oriented dances are held nightly, from sundown until 11 p.m., on the pavilion.

Autumn Flores said she was not present for the dance; the family was preparing to leave on Friday, so she was packing and cleaning. Her brother-in-law at the scene directed law enforcement to the River Road vacation home, where an officer picked up Adrian Flores, the 4-year-old boy’s father, and Autumn and her sister followed them.

While the Flores family is thankful for the emergency medical staff who attended to their son, they would like more information about the investigation from park officials.

“There’s not a whole lot of answers,” she said during a phone call on Monday. Flores said she has spoken with a park officer twice, but hasn’t been given information because the investigation is ongoing. “We don’t know what’s going on.”

This was the family’s third annual trip to Uvalde County.

While she said the incident probably won’t deter the family from vacationing here again, she doubts they’ll return to the pavilion for dances despite how much her children enjoyed the activity.

While the 4-year-old understands what happened was an accident, his mother said he is now easily startled by loud noises.

She stressed that while she’s not anti-gun, she wants assurance from the park that something like this won’t happen again.

“The gun is not supposed to be loaded in your pocket,” she said.

 

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