Girl recovering from accidental shooting by reserve deputy dad

Girl recovering from accidental shooting by reserve deputy dad

April 9, 2007

By MELISSA DiPANE
6 News Anchor/Reporter

LENOIR CITY (WATE) -- A five-year-old girl is recovering at University of Tennessee Medical Center after being accidentally shot by her father, a reserve sheriff's deputy in Loudon County.

The shooting happened around 9:30 p.m. Sunday as James Michael Powers cleaned and inspected his service weapon while sitting on the couch at his Lenoir City home.

Powers didn't realize a hollow point bullet was loaded when the gun discharged and hit his daughter, Chastity Powers, in the abdomen. 

Neighbors say the bullet grazed the girl's kidney and exited the Powers' home, leaving a baseball sized hole in the window.

The bullet could be lodged in the wall of a neighboring home.

Authorities say Powers drove Chastity to Fort Sanders Hospital in Loudon County after the shooting.

There are no reports of a 911 call. Authorities say they were alerted about the incident after a motorist reported Powers' speeding vehicle on the interstate.

Deputies found out about the shooting when authorities spotted and tried to intercept it.

Chastity was later flown by helicopter to UT Medical Center, where she's in guarded condition.  

Now that Chastity's health is in the clear, friends and neighbors worry about her father's well-being.

"Mike is in bad shape. We're more worried about Mike because he didn't get a bit of sleep and he's tore up," says neighbor Neil Cook.

Officials say they don't expect Powers to be involved with the reserve deputies again while Chastity recovers.  

Participating in the reserve unit is voluntary. Powers joined the unit after training in January.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting Loudon County in the investigation. At this point, they are ruling the shooting as an accident.

Powers' supervisor, Chief Daryl Smith, says he remains in good standing with the department and as of now, will not be asked to step down.

Officials say Powers has received at least 40 hours of training since he became a reserve deputy. His weapon has been turned over to the sheriff's office as part of the investigation.

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