A St. Peters resident wants to spread the message “what goes up, must come down.” After he and his girlfriend’s 13-year old daughter survived a close call with a bullet over the holiday weekend, Robert Worlitz wants to make sure that people understand the gravity of discharging firearms into the air.
“I want people to realize that shooting guns in the air almost cost this young lady her life,” Worlitz said.
According to Worlitz, he and Corey, his girlfriend’s daughter, were riding on his motorcycle at approximately 9:15 p.m. on the Fourth of July. The pair was driving on Second Street in St. Charles to a fireworks show when they heard a loud ‘bang’ come from behind them. Worlitz said he asked Corey if they had run over anything. Corey had looked behind her, and pointed out a hole in his motorcycle’s tour pack.
“I thought it was just a firework that hit me or something,” Worlitz said.
Later, when Worlitz was unloading his tour pack, and he found a hole blown clean through his coat. Underneath the ruined garment, he found a .45 caliber slug sitting at the bottom of the pack.
“There’s a large steel plate on the bottom of my tour pack, and the noise that we heard was that bullet hitting that steel plate,” Worlitz said. “It missed her head by about 8 inches. Had it been a split second sooner or later, it could have actually killed her.”
Discharging a firearm is legal in the unincorporated parts of St. Charles County, but only if it is done safely, according to St. Charles Police Department Lieutenant Dave Tiefenbrunn.
Tiefenbrunn said citizens are required to be a safe distance from a residence when shooting, cannot be intoxicated and must fire the weapon in a safe direction. The last requirement means that the gun must be shot against a safe backdrop, one capable of stopping the bullet from traveling any further, and not fired into the air.
“Depending on the round that you are shooting, these rounds can go a mile up to several miles away if you just shoot them up in the air,” Tiefenbrunn said.
Tiefenbrunn said that shooting a bullet up into the air does not impact the projectile’s lethality.
“It can still be fatal,” Tiefenbrunn said. “If you shoot a bullet straight up into the air, it is going to come down, probably not at the same velocity that it left the barrel, but it is going to be flying at a high speed. So, to penetrate a skull or the human body, it could easily do that.”
While Worlitz said his initial thoughts upon discovering the bullet were not pleasant, right now he simply wants people to be aware of the dangers shooting guns into the air can present.
“I just want people to be aware,” Worlitz said. “I’ve owned guns, and I’ve always heard they will come down with the same velocity when you shoot them in the air, and I thought ‘baloney, there’s no way.’ It’s a fact, I’ll attest to it.”