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Thread: More misadventures from Galveston, TX...this time cops with a pellet gun.

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    Pellet gun shooting leads to $100K in damage



    By Marty Schladen
    The Daily News


    Published November 17, 2007

    GALVESTON — More than $100,000 in water damage at the new county justice center was caused by a Galveston police officer shooting a pellet gun into the ceiling — and into a sprinkler head.

    And, because the city locked off access to a mechanical room in violation of its lease, Galveston taxpayers are left holding the bag for the repairs.

    Police Chief Kenneth Mack on Friday wouldn’t say whether the pellet rifle — which apparently has no law-enforcement use — went off by accident or whether officers in the narcotics division were shooting it on purpose Wednesday night.

    But as they cleaned up the damage from almost 500 gallons of water, county officials found more than two dozen pellets by Friday. They also found a sprinkler head that had been shot through with one of the pellets.

    Mack wouldn’t say whether anyone had been punished.

    Firefighters and county officials scrambled to the Justice Center about 9 p.m. Wednesday. They found about four inches of water pouring out of the narcotics division and into other areas, such as the emergency-dispatch center, where dispatchers continued answering calls, said Brian Maxwell, the county’s special projects director.

    It took 31 minutes to get into the mechanical room, where the cutoff valve for the sprinkler system is.

    That’s because the Galveston Police Department was using the room as a locker for its SWAT equipment and had welded a steel gate onto the entrance.

    Under the city’s lease with the county, the city is required to get a written OK from the county before making any physical changes to the Justice Center, said County Judge Jim Yarbrough.

    The city has acknowledged that Wednesday’s mishap was the result of “human error” and that it is responsible for the damages, Maxwell said.

    City Manager Steve LeBlanc didn’t return a call seeking comment.

    To ensure that mold won’t get a foothold in the new building, workers are replacing large portions of sheetrock, carpeting and other materials, Maxwell said.

    The total cost of the work is expected to be between $100,000 and $125,000.

    Mack was asked Friday what was going on in the narcotics division and whether any police officers would be punished. He didn’t respond other than to send an e-mail:

    “While the investigation into what happened has not been concluded, I have determined the following:

    “While in the narcotics office, one officer of the narcotics unit was handling an Air-Soft pellet rifle. This type of rifle is commonly used in recreational sports activities, and discharges a small plastic pellet.

    “While the officer was handling the weapon he discharged it. The discharged pellet ricocheted off a box at an upward angle and struck the filament in an overhead fire suppression sprinkler head.

    “The impact apparently broke the filament, causing that single sprinkler head to begin deploying water.

    “The officers who were in the office immediately took actions to prevent the loss of any evidence or records. They also immediately started notifying the appropriate personnel in an effort to shut off the water to the system.

    “Unfortunately this was not able to be accomplished for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, resulting in significant amounts of water being sprayed in the office. The water damaged flooring and walls in several office spaces due to the spread of the water. Upon completion of the formal investigation, the appropriate corrective and or disciplinary action will be initiated with the officer involved.”

    Mack didn’t respond to a call with follow-up questions.



    -- John D.

    P.S. I don't think it likely an "accidental discharge" resulted in a"freak chance ricochet" which just happened to hit the sprinkler filament...seems like he was deliberately aiming at it. Well, I guess boys will be boys...



    (formerly of Colorado Springs, CO)

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    Narcotics division, eh? Maybe they made a small trip to the evidence room a while before this pellet gun incident...

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    Seriously? Something doesn't sound right here. Even if the fire systems room was sealed off (Which should lead to a huge fine because that is hardcore illegal.) A step ladder and two door stops would havestopped the sprinkler head.Even if the police did not have this information the arriving FD should have.

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    WhiteFeather wrote:
    Seriously? Something doesn't sound right here. Even if the fire systems room was sealed off (Which should lead to a huge fine because that is hardcore illegal.) A step ladder and two door stops would havestopped the sprinkler head.Even if the police did not have this information the arriving FD should have.
    Good point. And, the officers could have gotten through the door using the same methods they use to break down the door while perpetrating a no-knock narcotics raid...

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    I am not at all familiar with these AirSoft pellet guns, nor their plastic ammo. I am told that strange people, both sides of the Pond, engage each other with such weapons, presumably in some kind of war games?

    Would such a weapon be powerful enough to do the damage,especially with a ricochet, that these narco cops claim?

    Why would they have such a weapon with them, in the first place?

    Maybe it is as Imp suggests, and they had been having a whack at some Tijuana Tobacco beforehand, or sampling the confiscated wares of some trustee of modern chemistry, who can say?

    A truly wierd story....

    TrueBrit.

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    TrueBrit wrote:
    Would such a weapon be powerful enough to do the damage,especially with a ricochet, that these narco cops claim?
    I've seen sprinkler heads that had a small glass phial of a reddish liquid holding closed the valve. I guess the heat from a fire boils the liquid (alcohol?) and breaks the glass, allowing the valve to open.

    Yes, I'm thinking a ricochet might do it.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    I've seen sprinkler heads that had a small glass phial of a reddish liquid holding closed the valve. I guess the heat from a fire boils the liquid (alcohol?) and breaks the glass, allowing the valve to open.
    Sprinkler heads used in fire suppression systems come in an array of shapes and sizes as well as angles to fit the need of the building. The most commonly used in office type buildings is called a pendant sprinkler. They hang vertically from the ceiling like a pendant necklace. The system in place is a wet system, meaning that the water is pressurized through out the pipes and that pressure is kept a on the sprinkler at all times. Sprinkler heads have many triggering devices. Some use a thin piece of metal that is designed to melt and break at a certain temperature. Some use a small tablet that is also designed to break at certain heat levels. The most commonly used today are the liquid filled vials. The color of the vile indicates the vial it is expected to break at.

    Orange=135

    Red=155

    Yellow=174

    Green=200

    Blue=286

    Black=440/500

    Red is the most commonly used in residential and office settings.

    All of thee above can trigger very easily. Sometimes a water hammer created by an extreme flow of water and then a sudden stop can trip the heads.

    However by inserting two door stops facing each other into the slot were the filament once was you will effectively stop the head without having to shut down the entire system




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