Gun shop owner who mistook Glock for BB gun previously served as volunteer deputy – Charleston Post Courier


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WANDO — The gun shop owner who discharged a handgun thinking it was a BB gun, killing an acquaintance, previously served as a volunteer deputy with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, a spokesman said.

Jon Whitley, 59, owner of Coastal Firearms, left the role in 2013, though it wasn't immediately clear when he first became a volunteer with the sheriff's office or what his responsibilities were. Further records from the sheriff's office were unavailable on Nov. 8.

Tragedy shook his Berkeley County gun shop on Nov. 2 when Whitley mistook his Glock handgun for a BB gun, fatally shooting Stefan Mrgan, 36, according to Berkeley County Sheriff's Office incident report.

Coastal Firearms is off Clements Ferry and Cainhoy roads amid stretches of empty land. Its website appears to have been taken down, though Yelp describes the establishment as a guns and ammunition store and firearms training academy. 

But reports of the shooting brought Berkeley County deputies to the store just before 5: 30 p.m. Nov. 2. Whitley told deputies he accidentally shot Mrgan with his personal firearm, a Glock 17, after mistaking it for a BB gun, according to the incident report. 

Mrgan was found in the store's lobby with a gunshot wound to his lower face. He died at the scene from an accidental firearm discharge, Berkeley County Coroner George Oliver said.

One witness, a cigar vendor, said he was near the cigar cabinet and front counter where Mrgan was sitting. The witness told investigators Mrgan and Whitley were chatting before he heard a loud bang, and then saw Mrgan fall to the floor, bleeding.

The witness secured Mrgan’s weapon and began first aid until emergency workers arrived, according to the report.

The shooting is marked "death" in the incident report, which notes no one was arrested. No charges have been filed in Mrgan's death as of Nov. 11.

It was unclear whether Coastal Firearms remains open for business. 

When approached with questions by a Post and Courier reporter on Nov. 8, three men sitting inside the store each replied, "No comment." 

The windowless building's doors were unlocked and a "No Trespassing" sign posted nearby banned anyone but customers.

Whitley's LinkedIn page indicates he's also an owner of Charlestowne Tobacco & Wine and Towne Centre Tobacco & Wine in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Hilton Head and Columbia. It also notes he served 13 years in the Army, most recently as a Special Forces commander.

Call Jocelyn Grzeszczak at 843-323-9175. Follow her on Twitter at @jocgrz.

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