The fatal shooting of a Mount Airy woman in late March has been ruled accidental, a city detective said Friday when additional details also were released indicating that the death resulted from a “perfect storm” scenario.
Darlene Jeanette Combs Tate, 57, died from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen on the night of March 29 during a family gathering at her home at 338 Austin Drive, an investigation showed.
The official classification of the death as accidental was based on an investigation at the scene, including interviews with witnesses, and the results of an autopsy.
“It was just a family get-together,” James said of what preceded the incident, during which Tate’s husband, Edgar, who is wheelchair-bound, was present. He was in possession of a .22-caliber derringer at the time, although no explanation has been given for his being armed.
Family members were helping Edgar Tate get out of his wheelchair so he could go to bed. “And the weapon fell from his person,” possibly from the man’s lap, James said.
“It just hit the floor and discharged,” the detective added of the gun, with the bullet striking Mrs. Tate. He described the situation as resulting from an unlikely set of circumstances that “you probably couldn’t duplicate.”
Police Chief Dale Watson said early on in the investigation that the failure to properly secure the weapon appeared to be the main culprit in the death.
Friday’s ruling closes the case, with no charges to be filed.
But, failure to secure the firearm is not a crime? That's the problem. That's the special treatment.