Texas firearms instructor accidentally shoots himself while teaching family how to clean and shoot pistol

Sgt. Heath Vanek, of the Hewitt Police Department, shot himself in the left hand with his 9 mm pistol

Published August 3, 2014 5:42PM (EDT)

            (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-95912p1.html'>Martin Haas</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Martin Haas via Shutterstock)

A member of the Hewitt Police Department is recovering from surgery for a self-inflicted gun-wound. Sgt. Heath Vaneck -- the Hewitt Police Department's firearms instructor -- shot himself in the left hand with his own personal 9 mm pistol.

Vaneck was teaching his family how to clean and shoot the semi-automatic pistol on July 15, when he accidentally shot himself, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. He declined to comment about the incident.

Hewitt Police Chief Jim Delvin, however, spoke to Vaneck about what transpired.

"He said, ‘I made a classic mistake,’" Devlin told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "We are human, too. We are not infallible. We make mistakes, and when we mess up, we mess up and do our best to correct it and get back to giving the public the best service we can."

Vaneck will be out of work for two months to recover from the injury. The police department is investigating the incident, and the punishment could range from counseling to being fired. The shooting did not use police department equipment and took place off the clock.

"I do see a potential for some re-teaching and some remediation," Police Chief Delvin said. "Accidents occur and when you are dealing with a handgun and other weapons, you need to make sure that all your focus is on that. You can’t give it 80 percent. You have to give it 100 percent."

Vaneck has been with the Hewitt Police Department for 11 years, five of those spent as the firearms instructor.

h/t Talking Points Memo

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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