The man who fired the shotgun that killed a 69-year-old man in the yard of his Deltona home on Christmas will not be charged, a Volusia County grand jury decided on Thursday.
Bruce Fleming was in his yard when he was struck by the stray pellet from a shotgun fired by Julio Lemus, who was shooting at a bird on a nearby property, authorities said. The grand jury ruled there is not enough evidence to prove a crime has been committed.
According to a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office report, Fleming and his son were outside doing some work in the yard when three shots were fired. Lemus told police he was shooting at a bird that was in a tree.
Lemus apparently wanted to shoot the bird because it was causing problems with his livestock, according to the report.
When he fired the first shot, the bird was up in a tree about 12 feet. The bird then moved to another tree and perched on it about 6 feet high, and Lemus fired again.
“The importance of the second shot is the backdrop for the shot is closely in line with where (Fleming) was working on his property at the time Lemus fired the second shot,” the report said.
The report states there were about 550 feet separating where Lemus fired the shots to where Fleming was standing.
It was after the second shot that Lemus told deputies he heard screaming. Fleming’s son found his father with a gunshot wound to his chest.
Lemus fired a third shot after the bird flew to the other side of the property, the report said.
After 911 was called, Fleming’s son drove his truck to get help when he encountered Lemus and another man who were driving away. When Lemus learned someone was shot, he said “I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened,” according to the report. He said he did not see anyone on Fleming’s property when he was shooting.
Lemus said he bought the shotgun about a year previous. He said he didn’t have any formal firearm safety training but did learn some tips from the previous owner of the shotgun.
“Among the things Lemus admitted to being told was not to shoot in the direction of homes or people,” the report said. “Lemus said that he shot in the direction of (Fleming’s property) because he thought it was high enough and none of the shots would be able to make it that far.”
It’s legal to fire a gun on private property in that part of the county “as long as it’s done in a safe and prudent manner,” the sheriff’s office has said.
Volusia sheriff’s investigators said Fleming was shot in the chest at 10:02 a.m. Wednesday while in his backyard at 3220 Cadehill Drive. Thursday’s autopsy confirmed Fleming died from the gunshot wound he suffered.