Six people were injured when a gun enthusiast at a trap and skeet range in South El Monte accidentally fired his shotgun in the wrong direction, authorities said Wednesday.
Ronald Smith, 43, of La Crescenta, who was tracking a faulty target that broke in two as it was flung from a skeet tower, fired toward the group of spectators Tuesday at the Pachmayr International Shooting Sports Range, Los Angeles County sheriff’s spokesmen said.
Smith had tracked the fragment of the clay target that flew toward the range’s parking lot. Five men and a teen-ager were about 30 yards away from Smith, talking and watching the shooters, when they were hit by pellets from Smith’s gun, Deputy John Ashley said.
Ismael Hurtado, 23, of Los Angeles was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for wounds to his face and neck. He was transfered to County-USC Medical Center, where he underwent surgery to repair damage to his left eye, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was in satisfactory condition Wednesday night, the spokeswoman said.
Jesse Robles, 17, of El Monte suffered a neck wound and was taken to a local hospital, where he refused treatment and was released against the advice of doctors.
The four others who were struck by pellets were treated at the scene by paramedics.
Kevin Scott, general manager of the range, said that during instruction, shooters are cautioned against firing at broken targets.
Although Smith was a regular at the range, which is located in the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, Pachmayr officials said they could not comment on his skills as a shooter.
“People who work here recognized him by face and by name,” said Ron Plue, vice president of Pachmayr Ltd. “Exactly how experienced he is, I don’t know.”
David MacDonald, 50, of Rowland Heights, who frequents the range twice a week, said the accident surprised him.
“I’m always impressed by how safety-conscious the shooters and the workers are here,” said MacDonald.
“This isn’t typical,” he said, referring to the shooting, which sheriff’s investigators determined was accidental. “I can’t imagine someone goofing off here. It’s just not a place to mess around.”