Thursday, May 23, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
March 05, 2013
INDEPENDENCE -- The suspect in a burglary north of Independence accidentally shot and killed himself with the gun he had stolen Sunday.
Polk County Sheriff's Office responded at about 10 a.m. to a report of a gunshot victim on farmland in the 5600 block of Halls Ferry Road.
Deputies found Genaro Hernandez Mendoza, 19, of West Salem dead from a gunshot to the head at the wheel of an old Chevrolet pickup in a field, said Polk Det. John Williams.
The pickup was taken from a farm located at the same address on Halls Ferry Road and was linked to an overnight burglary and theft reported at 6 a.m. at a separate property in the 1000 block of Independence Highway, Williams said.
According to an investigation, Mendoza had been walking toward a nearby relative's home when he stopped at the property on Independence Highway and stole a shotgun, ammunition and a videogame system.
He then hid the items near a barn about a mile away, stole the truck and returned to the home a second time to take a semiautomatic shotgun and an assault rifle, Williams said.
Deputies believe as Mendoza was driving away, the loaded rifle accidentally discharged; both guns had been propped up on the floorboard inside the cab and were angled with the barrels pointed at Mendoza, Williams said.
"You have a farm truck that's already a bumpy ride, going down a field that's bumpy," Williams said. "The shotgun moved ... and pulled the trigger of the rifle."
Williams said the truck rolled into a field and was still running when officials found it Sunday morning.
"It looks like this was an accident that could have been prevented by, one, if he hadn't taken the items, and two, treating every gun as if it's loaded and not pointing it at yourself," Williams said.