Documents: OSHA fines SC gun store after employee killed during ‘prank’ gone wrong

Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 6:29 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Months after the owner of a Berkley County gun store allegedly shot and killed an employee during a prank, documents show the business had to pay up for safety and health violations.

The South Carolina Office of Occupational Safety and Health fined Coastal Firearms $3,000 for two violations after the deadly Nov. 2 incident.

The state’s OSHA office issued the fine on April 28, those documents state.

Court records state store owner Jon Whitley told Berkely County Sheriff Deputies he bought a replica Glock BB gun and placed it among the other real firearms “with the intent of pranking his friend,” identified as 36-year-old Stefan Mrgan, an employee of the store. Whitley mistakenly picked up a real firearm instead of the replica, pointed it at the victim, and fired, the affidavit states.

He instead picked up a real weapon, he told authorities. Whitley was charged with involuntary manslaughter in late November.

READ MORE: Judge sets bond for gun store owner charged in employee’s shooting death

In December, a few days after Whitley’s bond hearing, state agents inspected the business located on Cainhoy Road.

The first citation, labeled as “serious,” states the business “failed to furnish a place of employment which is free of recognized hazards which may cause death or serious physical harm.”

OSHA documents state the employer should have known that by pointing a firearm in the direction of employees would expose them to be struck by a hazard and can be remedied with training and enforcement of basic firearm safety.

The second is a failure to report fatalities as the result of work-related incidents within eight hours. On Dec. 3, nearly a month after the incident, the documents state the business had not reported Mrgan’s death to OSHA administration.

Both citations carry a $1,500 penalty. South Carolina law also requires that the violations be posted for employees and remain posted until they are corrected or for three days, whichever period is later.

An employee who answered the business’ phone did not provide a comment.

No court dates appear to have been scheduled in the criminal case against Whitley.

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