A victim of an accidental shooting at Dawsonville Gun & Pawn is looking forward to the day when she can wear around her neck the bullet that hit both of her legs.
Dolores Bearden was looking at a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun that a customer had brought in on Jan. 23 when it went off, hitting her in both legs.
A customer came in the store with a weapon that he said was not working properly, and one of our salesmen was trying to see what was the problem with it, she said. The man didnt realize that it was loaded, and it went off.
The bullet went through one of Beardens upper thighs, and then hit her other leg. She was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where she was treated and released on the same day.
They dont stitch (the wounds) up, she said, so I just have gauze bandages.
Dawsonville Gun & Pawn owner Paul Mincey was at a dealer show in Texas when the incident occurred. He returned home immediately once he heard what had happened.
He said there are procedures in place for when a customer comes in with a gun, but those procedures were not followed. It could have very well been prevented, he said. The employee who was handling the weapon when it went off has been dismissed, Mincey said.
He is a good employee. Ive known him for a long time, he continued, noting that the employee had been with the company for over five years. Whether its me or any other employee, though, complacency with a firearm cannot be tolerated.
Capt. Tony Wooten with the Dawson County Sheriffs Office said that, according to the investigation, the owner of the gun did not think it was loaded when he took it into the shop. The shooting is being considered accidental, and no charges are expected to be filed.
Mincey also said that they are considering putting up signs that note no loaded weapons beyond a certain point, but he doubts theyll be effective. A full-time gunsmith is on staff to properly inspect all firearms brought into the building, Mincey said.
The business of Dawsonville Gun & Pawn is a true family affair: Bearden is Minceys aunt. Both of her sons work here, and Im her nephew, he said. My business partner is my dad, and thats his sister. And my uncle works here as well, which is her other brother.
When the shot was fired, Bearden said that she knew exactly what was happening.
Ive heard people say that its hot when you get shot, she said. Its hot. Its really hot. I just felt the heat. I did (realize what had happened). I heard it go off; I felt the heat in one of my legs, and then I looked down and saw blood coming out on the floor, so I knew it happened.
I did not pass out. It didnt knock me down, she continued, a tinge of pride in her voice. Bearden said she was grateful to the emergency workers who were there quickly following the incident, including Matt Willey, who was there when the shooting happened and instantly applied a tourniquet, also helping her to the floor. Bearden said a customer sat with her while she waited for help to arrive. She was talking to me, she prayed with me, she said. They were all wonderful.
Mincey agreed that response to the incident was quick and professional. Within nine minutes, the EMTs were in the store to treat Deloris, he said. Within three minutes, we had deputies in the store to help, assess the situation and treat Deloris.
Investigators now have the errant bullet, which fortunately did not hit any veins or bones. But Bearden wants to get that bullet back.
They told me theyre going to make a necklace out of it, she said, a necklace she plans to wear when she gets back to work following her recovery.
Ive just got to take it easy for a while to where these things heal, and then Ill be back at the store.
Shes a rock, Mincey said. She is one tough lady.