Accidental shooting rips apart Fresno family, shooter punished

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An extremely unlucky shot tore apart a Fresno family and Tuesday, they got to tell the man who pulled the trigger about the damage he wreaked. (KFSN)

An extremely unlucky shot tore apart a Fresno family and Tuesday, they got to tell the man who pulled the trigger about the damage he caused.

Police tape went up at a Northwest Fresno apartment complex just hours after Gerald Perry and his wife moved into their granddaughter's home for a temporary stay. From across the complex, a stray bullet had flown in and killed the 65-year-old. A few ticks earlier and it might've done more harm.

"The one thing I'm really thankful for is Jerry was playing with our great-granddaughter and he had just set her down on the floor when that bullet came crashing through that sliding glass door," said Perry's widow, Rebecca Perry.

His family asked not to be shown on camera as they expressed their grief to man who fired that shot. 31-year-old Lemont Smith was showing off the gun to a friend when he shot it last April. A year later, he had almost nothing to say, just listening as emotions overcame the people whose lives he changed forever.

13-year-old Madison Watt gave way to tears as she tried to talk about her grandfather. She had to leave the courtroom, but a minute later she came back with restored composure, and a powerful message.

"I loved my grandpa with all of my heart and soul," she said. "Now I miss him so much."

Perry's family remembered him as a fighter and a friend -- a man ready to enjoy retirement and more time with his wife of 33 years. They say every court hearing felt like a Bandaid ripped off the wound caused by his death. But now that it's over, they're trying to forgive Smith, and hoping he comes out of prison a changed man.

"We want Mr. Smith to finally learn from his mistake and in the future, never be in a situation where he feels he has to carry a gun again," said Perry's daughter, Jennifer Nay.

Smith admitted to manslaughter in the case and because his crime involved a gun, he'll serve a 21-year prison sentence.



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crimetrackershootingfresnofresno northwestmanslaughterFresno - Northwest
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