A gun shop owner in South Carolina was arrested after police say he killed one of his employees by accidentally shooting him in the face during a “prank” gone wrong. Jon Whitley was taken into custody on Monday and formally charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter nearly a month after U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Stefan “Steve” Mrgan III, 36, was shot dead, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Charleston FOX affiliate WCSC-TV reported that in an interview with investigators, Whitley said he purchased a replica Glock BB gun. The defendant said he brought the BB gun to work and placed it among the store’s stock of real Glock 17 handguns. He reportedly said he did so “with the intent of pranking his friend, the victim,” per the report. But instead of picking up the replica pistol, Whitley “accidentally” grabbed a real Glock, pointed it at Mrgan, and pulled the trigger.
A cigar vendor who was in the store at the time of the shooting reportedly told investigators that he was near a cigar cabinet located in the front of the store while Whitley and Mrgan were “chatting.” He then reportedly heard “a loud band” and that Mrgan fell to the floor bleeding. The cigar vendor said he immediately began first aid procedures on Mrgan until paramedics arrived.
“The defendant’s actions, although “accidental”, were wanton, reckless, without regard for the safety of the victim and constitute a departure from common firearm safety practices,” the affidavit states.