UPDATE: Woman arrested after accidentally firing gun during traffic stop

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | 12:49 p.m. CDT; updated 8:48 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Columbia Police Department officer Robert Hardt investigates inside a car Wednesday at the corner of Range Line Street and Vandiver Drive after an accidental shooting. The police department reported that a gun was shot inside the car through the floorboard before a traffic stop. No one was injured. One person was arrested for possession of a stolen gun.

COLUMBIA — A woman was uninjured but arrested Wednesday after she accidentally fired a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun she was trying to unload during a traffic stop, Columbia police said.

The gun discharged through the floorboards of the car she was in and prompted reports of shots fired at Range Line Street and Vandiver Drive.

A witness to the incident, Courtney Burks, who works at a Break Time across the street, was outside the store when the incident occurred. She overheard the woman say, "I'm from St. Louis; this ain't nothing."

Burks then ran inside to watch from a safer distance.

"(Police) were trying to get her out, and she just had her hands out the window..." she said.

The woman, who was later identified as Vernita Ferguson, 45, was arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen property, Columbia Police Sgt. Joe Bernhard said.

The incident happened after an officer driving west on Vandiver Drive noticed people in two separate cars in front of him shouting at each other in argument. A white town car in the right lane turned right onto Range Line Street, and the car in the left lane, a burgundy Cadillac DeVille, followed, crossing illegally over lanes, Bernhard said.

The officer pulled over the DeVille car to see what was going on, and as he exited his vehicle, he heard a gunshot fired in the car, Bernhard said.

The officer was not certain what had happened, so he called for backup. Multiple units arrived.

Two people were in the car. Officers discovered that Ferguson had accidentally fired a round through the floorboard when she tried to unload a gun, Bernhard said.

An officer searched the car and checked the serial number on the gun.

"It turns out that there was not going to be an arrest because it's legal to have a gun in your car now if you're of a certain age in Missouri," Bernhard said. "Well, it so happens that the gun is stolen."

Ferguson's bond was set at $4,500.

The bullet was lodged in the car, and no one was hurt in the incident. The driver was allowed to leave the scene.

The other car involved in the argument has not been located.

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Sally Willis September 7, 2011 | 1:47 p.m.

So people in moving vehicles... driving down the street yelling at each other... one in pursuit of the other... and a passenger with a stolen loaded hand gun! Wow there are soooooo many things wrong here!

(Report Comment)
Sally Willis September 7, 2011 | 1:54 p.m.

I think she should have stayed in St. Louis!

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