Man gets 3 years probation for accidental shooting; victim and victim’s mother testify

2014-08-18T16:38:00Z 2014-08-19T06:14:10Z Man gets 3 years probation for accidental shooting; victim and victim’s mother testifyBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A 22-year-old man who accidentally shot one of his “best friends” with a revolver will have the chance to clear his criminal record if he successfully completes three years of probation.

Following the recommendations made in a plea agreement, District Judge Gregory R. Todd on Monday gave a three-year-deferred sentence to Shane Paul Oberg for a count of felony criminal endangerment.

Both the victim and victim’s mother testified about the shooting.

According to prosecutors, Oberg was playing with a revolver indoors on Oct. 20 when it went off and hit the victim in the shoulder.

The victim’s mother testified that on the morning of the shooting she was expecting her son to help her move. Instead, she said, the phone rang and she learned her son had been shot and was in the emergency room.

“I thought my son was gone,” she said.

The victim took the witness stand after her and testified about the damage the gunshot caused him. “I can’t lift objects above my head that are heavy,” he said. “It hurts, and it causes me too much pain.”

“Judge, the best excuse I can give you for my client is that he absolutely should have known better,” said Oberg’s attorney, Brian Kohn. “He never intended to hurt (the victim) in this event and felt absolutely terrible about it.”

The attorney went on to explain that Oberg believed the gun was empty at the time of the shooting.

“One (round) had apparently stuck just well enough to not fall out of the cylinder, so when he slammed it shut, believing it was empty, it was ready to go,” Kohn said, adding that his client immediately made sure that the victim had medical attention after the shooting.

While being treated at the hospital, the victim told police that while he thought the shooting was accidental, Oberg had a habit of playing with the revolver, court records say.

He said Oberg would unload the gun, leaving one round in the gun’s cylinder. Oberg, the victim said, would then align that one cartridge to where the hammer wouldn’t hit it and would then point the gun at people and pull the trigger.

“(The victim) said the defendant was doing this to him that morning and after several times of doing it, he put in a second cartridge, spun the cylinder, pointed it at him without checking and pulled the trigger,” charging documents say.

Court records say at least seven people told police that Oberg had pointed his revolver at people or waived it around at parties.

“I never wished this upon (the victim),” Oberg told the judge Monday. “I mean, he was one of my best friends. As soon as it happened, it immediately put me into an anxiety attack.”

“Well, I don’t know why you had the gun in the first place,” Todd replied. “Bad things can happen. And obviously instead of a criminal endangerment charge you could easily be facing a negligent homicide charge.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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