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Flurry of accidental shootings in Fargo includes NDSU police officer who shot himself

By Dave Olson / The Forum

FARGO – It’s been a bad several weeks for accidental shootings in Fargo, said Police Lt. Joel Vettel.

There have been six such incidents in about the last month, including a case involving an off-duty North Dakota State University police officer who accidentally shot himself in the arm.

Two other shootings also resulted in injuries, in one case a fatal head wound, said Vettel, who added that Fargo police see one to two accidental shootings a month, on average, during the course of a year.

The accidental discharge of a firearm involving an off-duty NDSU police officer happened just before midnight on Sept. 13 in an apartment in the 3500 block of 28th Avenue South.

In that case, a bullet fired from a .40-caliber Glock handgun struck the officer in the arm before lodging in a wall.

The officer has been suspended and is on personal medical leave, according to a written statement released by Ray Boyer, director of NDSU’s police and safety office.

The statement said the school is conducting an internal review of the incident and will decide what to do after the review is complete.

NDSU Police Chief William Vandal identified the officer as Patrick Thomas.

Vettel said all of the recent accidental shootings involved handguns.

He said the common thread in all of the situations was human error. He said the cases underscore an important lesson: No matter how well trained someone is in handling guns, “There’s always a potential that these firearms can go off.”

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