Singaporean killed in US gun range accident

Mr Tan (above), who was living in the United States, died in hospital last Saturday after he was accidentally shot at the Raahauge Shooting Enterprises outdoor range (right) in California.
Mr Tan (above), who was living in the United States, died in hospital last Saturday after he was accidentally shot at the Raahauge Shooting Enterprises outdoor range in California.PHOTO: GOFUNDME.COM
Mr Tan (above), who was living in the United States, died in hospital last Saturday after he was accidentally shot at the Raahauge Shooting Enterprises outdoor range (right) in California.
Mr Tan, who was living in the United States, died in hospital last Saturday after he was accidentally shot at the Raahauge Shooting Enterprises outdoor range (above) in California.PHOTO: GOFUNDME.COM

Online posts say 36-year-old engineer was hit by stray bullet during a shooting competition

A 36-year-old Singaporean died last Saturday after he was accidentally shot at a gun range in California.

The incident happened around 11.35am and Mr Lionel Tan, an engineer, died around noon at the Corona Regional Medical Centre, according to a coroner's report from the local sheriff's department.

Californian newspaper The Press Enterprise reported that the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, which is probing the fatality, has deemed the shooting an accident.

No additional information was released. But online posts about the incident said the engineer, who moved to the United States more than 10 years ago, was killed by a stray bullet while waiting for his turn during a shooting competition.

Raahauge Shooting Enterprises, where the incident happened, has an outdoor range that is divided into multiple shooting bays, with high walls dividing the areas. The range is located in River Road, Corona.

Facebook user C.K. Hwang, who knew Mr Tan, wrote in replies to questions on a Facebook post that a non-competitor from a neighbouring bay had shot "a high-powered round" over the wall. It "then ricocheted and killed Lionel", he added.

Another Facebook user, Mr Shane Cox, also said Mr Tan was hit in the back by a rifle bullet. The gun range was closed on Saturday afternoon while the sheriff's department conducted its investigation, but reopened on Sunday.

Range manager Cindy Raahauge Shenberger told US media it did not know exactly what happened. She said it was the first time in 30 years such an incident happened at the outdoor range, and declined to comment further.

According to the Raahauge range website, the compound offers bays for pistol and rifle shooting, and conducts activities like pheasant and duck hunting.

Close to US$24,000 (S$34,000) has been raised so far through a GoFundMe crowdfunding page to help pay for Mr Tan's funeral arrangements. There will be a memorial service in the US before a family mass and service in Singapore.The amount raised exceeds the US$10,000 target, with more than 300 donors chipping in.

Mr Gabriel Estrada, who said he was Mr Tan's close friend, started the initiative on Sunday and wrote that Mr Tan's family was due to arrive in the US yesterday to finalise funeral arrangements. Mr Estrada wrote: "We all lost a good friend and a great person. Lionel Tan left us doing what he loved to do suddenly on the range."

He added: "He was always the first to offer a helping hand or a kind word. He expressed positivity and compassion in everything he did with a dedication to healthy living and a strong work ethic."

Pictures shared on the page and Mr Tan's Facebook showed him as a motorbike and outdoor enthusiast. According to Mr Tan's profile on the LinkedIn networking site, he was an engineer with Traylor Brothers in Long Beach for over six years.

He lived in Hawaiian Gardens, California, and had studied at Purdue University in the US, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. He was also a former student of Tampines Junior College in Singapore, according to his Facebook page.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Singaporean killed in US gun range accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe