Teenager who supervised gun fair says he warned father about Uzi
SPRINGFIELD — A teenager who supervised an 8-year-old who shot himself with an Uzi submachine gun at a 2008 gun fair testified yesterday that he told the boy’s father that “it wasn’t a good idea’’ to let the child fire it.
Michael Spano was a witness on the fourth day of the trial of Edward Fleury, whose company cosponsored the exhibition at the Westfield Sportsman’s Club. Fleury pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges in the death of Christopher Bizilj of Ashford, Conn.
Spano said he offered the micro Uzi because Dr. Charles Bizilj wanted his two sons to shoot an automatic weapon and a regular Uzi the father had picked out was failing to fire in automatic mode.
“I told him it wasn’t a good idea because it shoots fast and kicks hard,’’ said Spano, who was 15 when the shooting occurred.
Christopher’s brother Colin, then 11 years old, fired the micro Uzi first. Then Christopher came up to the firing line. Spano said he had one hand on Christopher and one on the gun.
“He was shooting fine, then something happened,’’ Spano said. “I ran over to my father, and I told him the gun hit the kid in the face.’’
Spano’s father, Domenico Spano of New Milford, Conn., and Carl Giuffre of Hartford brought the machine guns to the gun fair and had machine gun licenses. Both have pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and await trial.
Also yesterday, a female juror was dismissed after crying during a sidebar conference with the judge and lawyers. Fifteen jurors remain, including 12 who will deliberate the case and three alternates. Officials would not say why the juror was dismissed.
Testimony resumes Monday.
On Thursday, jurors watched video of the shooting.
Prosecutors maintain that Fleury was responsible for illegally allowing the underage boy to fire a machine gun at an exhibition he had promoted as safe and legal.
Michael Spano, who did not have a machine gun license and was not certified as a firearms instructor, testified that Fleury knew he was going to work on the firing line as a range officer.
Fleury’s lawyer, Rosemary Scapicchio, asked Spano: “You trusted Mr. Bizilj to make the best decisions for his own children, right?’’
“Yes,’’ Spano said.
Scapicchio contends some responsibility for Christopher’s death should fall on his father. Prosecutors said Charles Bizilj was not charged because he based his decision to allow his sons to shoot on information from others who should have known it was too dangerous.
Bizilj testified Thursday he thought the event would be safe and well supervised.
Bizilj acknowledged under cross-examination that he signed a liability waiver before the shooting and told reporters shortly afterward that he believed it was a tragic accident.
Michael Spano also said that several police officers saw children shooting machine guns at the event and never told anyone to stop or that it was illegal.