West Bend man shot, injured after neighbor discharges rifle

WEST BEND (WITI) -- A West Bend man was lying on his couch on Tuesday, March 4th, when he was struck by a bullet. Police say the man who fired shots lives in the apartment downstairs.

FOX6 News spoke with a neighbor who heard the gunshot and stayed with the victim until law enforcement officials arrived on scene. He says the suspect was there as well, and kept apologizing for the incident.

It happened at an apartment on Vogt Drive. Neighbors there say they can hardly believe what happened.

"I'm shocked, I'm scared, I'm appalled. I'm just hoping that everybody is okay," Tania Adornato said.

Justin Vargas was in his apartment when it happened.

"I heard an explosion. I heard it and then I ran out of my apartment. I saw a man running upstairs," Vargas said.

A subsequent investigation determined that a 20-year-old male resident in a lower level apartment had negligently discharged an AR-15 rifle while handling the weapon. The man reportedly told neighbors he was cleaning the weapon when it went off.

According to police, the bullet traveled through the ceiling of the apartment and into a second floor unit, grazing man who was lying on the couch.

Police say the man shot in this case is 32 years old. He suffered a laceration to his abdomen.

"He was bleeding pretty bad," Vargas said.

Vargas says the man came into the hallway with a rag pressed against his stomach.

"I told him to just sit down on the floor, and had him sit against the wall upstairs. I didn't want him to go into shock or to stop breathing or anything like that," Vargas said.

The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment. There, he was listed in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, the man accused of firing the shot says it was an accident.

"The victim was always constantly being told from the shooter 'I'm very sorry. I'm very sorry.' He was very apologetic," Vargas said.

The 20-year-old man was arrested on charges of injury by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon and possession of a switchblade knife.

It's something neighbors say shouldn't have happened.

"If he was cleaning the gun, yeah, I don't see why you'd have the gun loaded or just handling it in general, I don't see why you'd have it loaded," Ben Kanas said.