A city man charged with shooting a nursing home employee with a high-powered pellet gun was rearraigned today on an enhanced charge and released on bond, according to the Cortland Police Department.
Shawn Fagan, 52, of 33 Kellogg road was arraigned on felony, first-degree assault about 3 p.m. today in City Court after city police upgraded his charge from felony, second-degree assault, according to a news release.
Fagan shot a 42-year-old woman about 8:10 p.m. Saturday as she stood outside her workplace, Crown Park Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, across from his home, said Lt. Michael Strangeway.
The woman was taken to Upstate University Hospital where she had surgery to remove .177 caliber pellet from her lower jaw and released, Strangeway said. She also lost three teeth and suffered a small hole to her lower lip, he said.
The charge was upgraded as Fagan intentionally shot and permanently disfigured the woman’s jaw by knocking out three adult teeth, Strangeway said in a phone interview this afternoon. According to state penal law, first-degree assault can be charged when, “with intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person.”
The high-powered pellet gun city police recovered in Fagan’s home shoots a pellet faster than a .22 caliber rifle shoots a bullet, Strangeway said. The pellet gun shoots pellets at 1,200 feet per second, while a .22 rifle shoots a bullet at 1,000 feet per second, he noted.
“While the projectile is much lighter, it’s traveling at a higher rate of speed,” Strangeway said. He also noted the pellets recovered were pointed and meant for hunting small mammals like woodchucks and rabbits, not the flat pellets commonly used for target practice. “This was a pointed dense copper pellet ad ver for maximum penetration for hunting.”
While rare, even average pellet guns can kill a person and about four deaths related to pellet guns are reported every year to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, according to 2012 agency release.
“Many people do not realize that BB guns, especially high-velocity guns, can cause death,” the agency noted. “...Like firearms, these guns should never be aimed at another person.”
Pellet guns are dangerous at up to 350 yards, according to CPSC.
Police recovered both the high-powered pellet gun wrapped in aluminum foil and a loaded shotgun when they executed a search warrant Saturday at Fagan’s residence, said Strangeway. No other weapons were seized from the home.
There is no apparent connection between Fagan and the woman he shot, Strangeway said. But Fagan told police on the scene Saturday he believes the nursing home is full of criminals, he said. Fagan also told officers in previous police encounters he believes Crown Park is a “front” a criminal enterprise and is housing illegal immigrants, Strangeway noted.
With Fagan released on $5,000 band, Strangeway urged Crown Park employees to be cautious.
“We’re going to increase patrol in the area to the extent that we’re able to,” he said, “but I would encourage Crown City employees, especially ones that go outside and smoke cigarettes across from the suspect’s home, to exercise some degree of caution, because he is back home.”
City police officers are responsible for patrols throughout the city and cannot be everywhere at once, Strangeway noted. “But where we see significant danger to the community we increase patrols.”