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Spouse shot in gun-firing lesson

A man showing his wife how to fire a gun blames himself for the accident. No charges are filed.

By TAMARA LUSH

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


PORT RICHEY -- Robert Korzick remembers that he and his wife, Suzanne, were watching a crime show on TV early Sunday morning, just hours after celebrating their 16th wedding anniversary at a local restaurant.

The show was about women who are victims of home invasions, and it struck a chord with Korzick. He said he was planning to go to Connecticut to visit family soon and didn't like the idea of leaving his wife alone.

"There's too many crazy things that happen in this state," Korzick said.

So he wanted to make sure his wife knew how to defend herself. Korzick said he pulled out his .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun and showed Suzanne how to fire the weapon.

Korzick cleared the chamber of any rounds and said she pulled the trigger several times to get the feel of the gun. She handed the gun back to him, he said, and he replaced the magazine. They talked for about 20 minutes, then she asked to hold the gun again, he said.

He handed it to her, he said, forgetting that it was loaded. As she held it in her left hand, the gun went off. The bullet sliced through his neck, missing his trachea and a major artery by a sliver.

A hysterical Suzanne Korzick later told a deputy that she wasn't sure if her finger was on the trigger when the gun discharged.

"There's no case here, it was accidental," Robert Korzick told the Times on Thursday, his voice raspy from the bullet wound.

Pasco County Sheriff's deputies agreed. Suzanne Korzick wasn't charged. Sheriff's officials didn't release the report until the Times asked for it on Thursday. Spokesman Kevin Doll said many reports are not written and filed by deputies immediately after an incident. Doll also said he doesn't review closed cases if they don't involve deaths or charges unless the media requests the report.

Robert Korzick decided to call the newspaper to tell his story.

"Not just children can make stupid mistakes," he said.

Korzick said he is a disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has handled dozens of different guns in his life. Despite his knowledge of firearms, he says he was to blame in the shooting that nearly killed him.

"You always treat a gun as if it was loaded," he said. "It was sheer stupidity on my part. It almost cost me my life."

Korzick, who was flown to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg on Sunday, has been in and out of the hospital ever since.

Since his wife shot him at close range -- she was sitting 3 feet away from him on the couch -- the bullet didn't fragment inside his body, but instead, lodged near his back. "You could see the hump (of the bullet) under the skin," he said. The bullet had nicked his collarbone and missed his carotid artery by an eighth of an inch.

Doctors are worried that his wound will become infected and spread to his lungs and heart, Korzick said.

His wife is still too upset to discuss the shooting. "Every time she sees me in pain, she starts crying," he said.

Thursday, Suzanne Korzick went back to work as a supermarket clerk. Robert stayed home, trying to forget the pain. When a reportercalled, he pretended to be his brother, saying he wanted to avoid calls from lawyers, who have asked if he wants to sue the person who shot him.

"It was my mistake," Korzick said of the shooting.

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