Accidental shooting

A Tulare County Sheriff's Department deputy investigates a shooting Friday. A farmworker was accidentally shot in the leg in an orchard near Road 208.

Man accidentally shot by teenager

A farmworker picking blueberries near Road 148 and Avenue 208 was shot in the leg Friday morning by a teenager practicing his shooting about a half a mile away.

Numerous Tulare County Sheriff deputies and California Highway Patrol officers responded to the area after receiving 9-1-1 calls from several farmworkers that they were being fired upon.

Less than a mile away, Rockford Elementary School was placed on lockdown for approximately 45 minutes, said Superintendent Caron Borba.

The students were out playing at recess when the shooting began, Borba said, but no one was injured and all students were accounted for.

“Ultimately, it was a big, fat accident,” said Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Nathan Polk, who was at the scene. “It’s a lot more drama than anything else.”

A juvenile is responsible, Polk said.

“It was all accidental. A 16-year-old youth was target shooting with a .22 rifle. Some [bullets] flew over and hit a field worker in the leg. It’s non-life threatening,” Polk said.

The workers, however, had no idea what was happening and hit the ground as bullets continued to fire.

According to Polk, the youth had no idea anything had happened until he saw numerous emergency vehicles approaching his home.

“We’re going with negligent discharge of a firearm,” Polk said. “He had no intent on hitting anyone.”

But because a person was hit, and transferred to the hospital, Polk said, the youth was taken into custody.

A bullet from a .22 rifle can travel up to a mile.

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