Cathy Schmelzer couldn’t believe it when she read in the newspaper that Terry J. Dunlap Sr. — a firearms instructor — had accidentally shot someone.
“Oh no, he’s done it again!” she said she thought to herself. Schmelzer, 50, was with Cathy Hessler, a 14-year-old Pickerington girl, when she was accidentally shot in 1977 by Dunlap during a Halloween hayride.
At the time, Dunlap was a Pickerington police department auxiliary lieutenant. According to a Dispatch account back then, Dunlap said he had fired his .38-caliber handgun into the air to create, in his words, a “scary effect” while taking his daughter and her friends for a “haunted hayride” on his rural property in Fairfield County.
Dunlap said he thought the gun was loaded with blanks. But a bullet ricocheted and hit Cathy Hessler in her right leg. The bullet was removed at Mount Carmel East hospital.
No criminal or departmental actions were taken against Dunlap because the shooting was deemed accidental.
A good strong one-strike-you're-out policy would have disarmed this irresponsible man decades ago. People who do reckless and dangerous things with guns should never have the chance to repeat the offense. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Dunlop hasn't had a good list of incidents in his long career which could have all been avoided.