UPDATE: Friend cleaning handgun shot 22-year-old

Posted at 9:40 PM, Mar 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-19 19:18:19-04

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WTVR) -- Police are investigating after one man was shot in the stomach inside a Colonial Heights apartment. The gun discharged while it was being cleaned, police said.

Two men were cleaning handguns in a downstairs apartment at the English Village Apartments Tuesday night when police said one of the guns fired.

Police said the 22-year-old victim was shot by a friend as the pair were cleaning their handguns.

“When they went to disassemble it, a shot was fired,” Sgt. Rob Ruxer with Colonial Heights Police said.

A .40 caliber bullet fired from the gun struck the victim in the abdomen.

The victim, who was taken to Southside Regional Medical Center, was in stable condition at last check Wednesday evening.

For some who live at the apartment complex, they're glad the bullet didn't go through a wall and hit someone else.

"I'm not ok with it, but when you're cleaning your weapon the first thing you do is check your ammo,” said David Rowles, who lives at the apartment complex. “I mean it's common sense."

The CDC reported 606 people were killed accidentally by guns in 2010. The average age of the victims was 20.

"Unloaded guns kill people all the time because they don't check them. And they're not unloaded and that's how accidents happen," Dance's Sporting Goods’ Marlon Dance said.

Experts stressed specific steps must be taken when cleaning any semi-automatic weapon.

"If I was getting ready to clean this gun, the first thing I would do, would be… Drop the magazine, push the slide back, [and] lock it open… There's no where else for any bullets to be," said Dance.

Police said the person who fired the shot had removed the magazine from his gun. However, police said that the gun fired when the trigger was pulled.

Colonial Heights police said their investigation is ongoing. The person who pulled the trigger could face a misdemeanor or reckless use of a firearm charge.