A 26-year-old man in the Flint, Michigan, area died on Saturday evening when a cannon was fired and exploded in a friend’s back yard.
Michigan State Police said Evan Thomas Silva was killed when struck by shrapnel from the cannon, which was fired during a baby shower as a celebration of the event. He was taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition, and later died.
Four or five people were outside the home when the cannon was fired. Silva was the only one struck by the shrapnel and was 10-15 feet away. Three cars were also damaged.
The cannon the homeowner fired was similar to a Signal Cannon, more commonly used as a novelty item. Police said the homeowner bought the cannon at an auction prior to the event and had fired the cannon several times before.
“The cannon is designed to create a big flash, a loud noise and create smoke,” Michigan State Police said in a news release. “The cannon did not contain any projectiles, but it is suspected that the gun powder loaded into the device caused the cannon to fracture, resulting in shrapnel being spread in the area.”
Some baby showers in recent years have featured gender-reveals from objects that emit a blue or pink colored confetti or other objects, and a few have turned into deadly accidents.
One incident in Southern California sparked a wildfire that burned thousands of acres in September, and in 2019 in Iowa a 56-year-old woman was killed when a device intended to emit pink or blue smoke exploded like a pipe bomb.
A police spokesperson said the cannon was not used to emit a colored smoke, and the incident is being investigated to determine if the cannon malfunctioned or was used improperly. A bomb squad is suspecting too much gunpowder was being used.