Family of shooting victim involving Liberty County commissioner call incident ‘negligence’
The family of a young boy who was injured in a July 6 shooting incident at Garner State Park that involved Liberty County Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur says they want the incident to be treated as an act of negligence, not an accident.
“I never thought I would be treating a bullet wound on my 4-year-old son,” said La Porte resident Autumn Flores, mother of Cash. “My son keeps asking me, ‘Why did that man shoot me?’ He doesn’t understand.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which is making inquiries into the incident, says the investigation is still ongoing but no laws appear to have been broken.
“Anyone who is licensed to carry in the state of Texas can carry on state park property. If they have a license for open carry, the firearm must be in a holster,” said Tom Harvey, spokesperson for TPWD. “This firearm was being carried lawfully.”
Arthur and the boy, both on holiday with their respective families, were attending a children’s dance at the park when the shooting incident occurred. Arthur, a former sheriff for Liberty County, says he was wearing his concealed handgun when it began to shift around. He claims that while making adjustments, he accidentally hit the trigger, causing his Smith & Wesson handgun to fire downward toward the ground. The bullet grazed Arthur’s leg, causing a gash.
Cash and a 27-year-old man reportedly were struck by bullet fragments that ricocheted off the concrete floor of the pavilion.
Autumn was not with her son at the time of the incident as he had attended the dance with his uncle and aunt, Ryan and Stacy Lenz, and other family members.
“Police showed up at the house and could only tell us that he had been hurt. It never once crossed my mind that my child was shot,” Autumn said.
Accompanied by the officer and another family member, the child’s parents made the long 15-mile drive from their rented vacation home to Garner State Park. There they met with other family members who reportedly filled them in on what had occurred.
The child’s Aunt Stacy said she was standing in the pavilion alongside her husband, Cash and his older sister.
“We took the kids to the dance like we do every summer. Some of the other kids were on the dance floor when we heard this loud pop right next to us. It was definitely the sound of gunfire,” she said. “Then I saw a man and woman turning around and rushing off.”
Stacy said she was still trying to assess what happened when she picked up Cash and handed him to her husband. She then began looking for her other children.
“I found all the other kids and assessed everybody really quick. It was so fast. I looked everybody in the eyes and realized they were all okay. Cash wasn’t crying or anything but at this point, he said, ‘Aunt Stacy, I am bleeding,’” she said. “I told my husband, ‘Oh, my god, Cash has been shot.’”
After the incident, Cash was first taken to a local hospital in Uvalde County before being transferred to a trauma center in San Antonio where he had to undergo surgery. Two bullet fragments were found in the area around his knee, lodging two inches below the surface of the skin in soft tissue, his mother said.
After a two-day stay at the hospital, Cash was released into his parents’ care.
“I thought it was all behind us but then I realized what all we were going to have to do to care for him while his wounds heal. The bullet fragments didn’t hit anything major but because there wasn’t an exit wound, we had to pack the bullet wound on our 4-year-old,” Autumn said. “My husband and I had to hold him down every day so we could pack his wound. Part of his treatment involved taking a Q-tip and pushing it into his wound to perform a debridement. It was painful for him and he just screamed.”
Autumn said the family has hired an attorney to help them with the aftermath.
“I can’t even imagine what the medical bills will be. He had two ambulance rides and had a cardiovascular team waiting on him when he arrived in San Antonio,” she said. “I want to be sure he has no residual effects from this. I know what I am going through as his mother but he’s only 4 and it’s hard for him to communicate. I just want him (Arthur) to do what is right.”
Arthur says he is extremely remorseful for the incident and has already filed a claim on the child’s behalf.