How our son survived being shot

So my son got shot today.

But before we get all of your sympathy, you should know, he’s fine. He’s left with nothing more than a pellet gun perpetuated flesh wound and an impressive looking bruise on his chest.
I want to tell this story because:

1) we learn things from stories,

2) for all our family and friends that read this, it saves us from telling the story over and over again, and as my wife will attest, every time I talk about this I get more and more upset…and

3) it’s 3:45am, I can’t sleep, and I’ve just finished checking on our 3 kids for the 4th time tonight, because, apparently, they can’t sleep either.

Yesterday was proceeding like any other perfect long weekend at the cottage: lots of swimming, jumping off the dock, relaxing in the sun, playing in the sand – all without a care in the world (which would be our kids’ perspective because all parents know, once you have kids, there’s not a second that goes by without a care).
Then without warning, on this peaceful motor boat/water skier/canoe/stand-up-paddle-boarder populated lake, we were shot at. Not once or twice, but 3 shots as we would later realize. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was yesterday. But I’m certain I’ll remember it “like it was yesterday” for a long time.

Our oldest daughter and I were swimming in the water, about 10 feet off the dock where my second oldest/youngest was relaxing, and about 3 feet from my wife and almost 2 year old son, who were relaxing and cuddling on a rather large, 10-person floating island.

As I was emerging from below the surface of the amazing 78 degree lake water, I heard a sound, like something was thrown or skipped very quickly across the water as right by my ear. I had no clue what it was, but a few seconds later, now fully emerged and trying to climb onto the floating island, my wife accusingly asked “What did you just throw?” Something had hit our son in the chest! Still confused but very concerned after seeing the shocked and painful look on his face, I yelled to pull up his shirt. We were presented with a small but painful looking (and bleeding) wound in the middle of his chest.

Still, we have no real idea what would have caused this. We go through several (possible and impossible) causes. Including, but not limited to:

– ‘something’ popped out of the floating island and whipped him in the chest

– a super fast flying bug flew right into his chest (my favourite theory)

– a passing boat’s motor shot something out of the water and right into his chest

As we’re trying to do our best CSI, while comforting our still in shock “victim”, and trying to get the floaty back to the dock, we hear another sound. A loud “pop” coming from the floaty – something had just hit the floating island. No longer are we curious about the cause of the wound, we’re SCARED that we’re under attack and it’s going to happen again. “Are we being shot at?” I asked my wife.

I order my eldest out of the water and to head towards the cottage with her younger sister. My wife takes our son onto the dock for closer examination and “cover” behind the boat. As she does this, we both hear a sound from the boat. It’s the engine’s blower! That’s it! The kids must have accidentally turned on the blower just a few seconds before we went into the water, the blower must have picked up something and “shot” it towards us. That would explain the 3 separate shots being fired. Man were we relieved we weren’t being attacked!

After she cleaned and bandaged our son’s wound, my wife calls the boat company. She tells the technician our story and asked if it’s possible the blower could have caused the injury. “The only thing it can ‘shoot’ is a candy wrapper” he says. We’re back to being confused.

By this point we had calmed down a little. Our son was already back to his rambunctious self and was playing with his sisters. We realize there have been no more shots and that everyone else on the lake was still out enjoying the beautiful day. Although we still don’t know exactly what had happened, our brains told us not to be scared. We were once again taking advantage of the sun and watching our kids play on the beach. Eventually we decide to take one last canoe ride before packing up to leave for home in the evening. At the tail end of our voyage, just a few cottages away from my brother’s cottage, my wife lets out an actress-like gasp. I turn my head as if on a swivel for her to say “Oh my God! There’s someone shooting from that cottage!!” He’s the one that shot our son!!”

I looked up to see a teenager holding a rifle looking out into the water. He turned to shoot his gun into the woods behind him. We decided, without hesitation, to park the canoe and tell the adults we saw up on the deck with him exactly what had happened. As my wife and I take turns describing to the adults how this child with the gun must have (accidentally, hopefully) shot our son earlier in the day, we both start to shake with anger as we realize that these people, these adults, not only admit that they know that he shoots out towards the lake, but that they don’t care that the child with a rifle could have KILLED our son. He could have killed anyone.

They had zero concern and zero remorse. They didn’t even take his gun. He continued to shoot into the forest (away from the lake).
We might as well have told them that we had a great breakfast – they didn’t care. If their dog wasn’t barking/growling at us from the dock, and we didn’t have all 3 kids with us, someone may have been killed this day.

We angrily paddled back home, shakingly called 911 and informed them that people were allowing a child to shoot at other people on a busy lake and that our son thankfully only had a flesh wound. They sent an officer and two ambulances. For precaution, they took our son (with my wife) to the local hospital to be examined and I told the officers the story. I asked if I could press charges. They said “we’ll see”.

At the hospital, our son entertained the nurses and on call physicians with his dancing and singing. And because he dances like a New Zealand Rugby player and sings like a Minion from Despicable Me, the staff really enjoyed him. As expected, he was given a clean bill of health. The police officers showed up at the hospital to check on our son and we were told they wouldn’t be able to press charges but that the boy seemed scared enough that it wouldn’t happen again.

As I write this, I’m still in disbelief that:

1) Our son was 4 inches away from possibly dying or at least having a much more serious injury. The pellet hit him on an angle, not direct. And from the approximately 100 meter distance, a direct hit to a young body can do some serious and sometimes lethal damage.

2) These “adults” would allow a child to shoot a pellet gun out towards a busy lake and think nothing of it

3) These “adults”, upon hearing that this child shot our son, had absolutely ZERO concern or remorse.

4) We couldn’t (legally) do anything about it aside from a stern talking to from the police. This kid could have killed someone and all he’s told is to be more careful.

I mentioned earlier that you learn things from stories like this. What did I learn?

1) You shouldn’t joke about your child being similar to a famous movie criminal. On the way to my brother’s cottage this weekend, I jokingly called him Tony Montana, aka “Scarface”, because a recent fall into the corner of a table has left him with a mean looking scar on the bridge of his nose. Little did I know, he would get his first (and hopefully only) bullet wound only 2 days later.

2) No matter how much we try and protect our kids, there are stupid people out there that let their stupid kids play with stupid toy guns and point them towards a lake of unsuspecting, innocent people.

Thanks for reading my rant. It’s now 5:00am and I feel a little better for writing this down. I hope everyone has a great Labour Day and is ready for the start of the school year. Be safe!!





45 responses

  1. I’m really sorry to hear this Matt. I’m relieved you and your family are OK “physically”. I’ve always said….’They let anyone ‘have’ a baby, but if you want to adopt you have to go through hell’! And hearing this after I just heard on TV about a one year old in Boston being pushed by his parents in a stroller getting shot and killed!! As you’re learning………being a parent is THE hardest job in the world!! Yake care Matt.

  2. I’m so happy to hear that your little boy is doing great however, not surprised to hear that you had no legal recourse. The legal system here in Canada is horrible and definately not on the side of the innocent person. A friend of mine’s son was stabbed to death outside his school and the murderer received three yrs and would be free in less than a yr with good behaviour. So hard to hear of such tragedies and how are legal system fails us over and over. Remember, what goes around comes around and that kid and his family will get theirs in good time. Things could have gone so much worst than it did. Thank goodness you’re all safe.

  3. OMG……seriously, we are shocked and disgusted that the police couldn’t do more than warn the (Idiot) family!!! How upsetting this whole event must have been for you and your family. Joe and I are happy that under the circumstances ALL have come through this with little physical injury – thank goodness, thank God. Your son will have a surprising story to share with his friends at school…with everyone safely home….hope the focus has moved onto the excitement of the new school year . Take Care

  4. Matt,
    I am truley shocked by your story!! I am so sorry that you and your family had to live through this hell. I know time will heal your son’s physical wounds but I hope time will also heal the emotional wounds too.

  5. Hi there,
    I read about this in the HuffPost. It is terrifying and makes me very angry both as a parent and as a human being. You know, one with feelings and morals. I’m completely flabbergasted by the response of the parents and the authorities. I can only tell you that if this was the late 70s and it was my parents, I would be the one who was terrified, gun or not. And my kids? I would have to think long and hard about a suitable punishment for this action, but suffice to say, they would be punished accordingly.

    • unfortunately, kids today dont care a hoot if their parents end up in jail because of something this serious, the teenaged boy in this account probably wouldnt care as long as he got away with it. The police should be ashamed of themselves. years ago my son had a pellet gun, and was shooting at a target in our yard, one pellet went quite far and buried itself under the vinal roof on a car a street over. the police showed up here and gave him a severe warning and told him to go over to the empty field near the school and set up his target there and shoot into the bush…….those parents are idiots and should be taking that gun away from their son pronto….. they should also be punishing him but to cover up for him isnt giving him a very good role model for life, they have basically said to that kid that if you lie you can get away with murder……………..just saying

  6. I am in total disbelief!!! Unfortunately and I do mean unfortunately this is what this world is coming to. No caring for anyone else in this world. However .. I am sincerely relieved and happy that your son is fine!

  7. I would be contacting a personal injury lawyer immediately. The threshold for pursuing a civil action against the boy’s parents is much lower than for the police to proceed with a criminal action. You’re case and claims are well documented from multiple sources including a hospital report that would verify that your Son was shot. Although it may offer little immediate comfort, perhaps a large hit in the pocket book will not only teach the parents a lesson in accountability but also remunerate your Son and your family for the psychological trauma you have all endured at the hands of someone who committed a clearly illegal and woefully reckless act.

    This story horrified me as a parent and as someone who enjoys the outdoors with my own children.

    I wish your Son a swift recovery and some peace for your family in the coming days.

    Kind Regards

    A concerned Canadian Dad.

    • I agree with Adam. Why not pursue some civil action? You can offer to not go through with it if the kid gives you his gun and writes an apology letter. Or go through with it and hope for some measure of justice and deterrence effect.

      • I agree. It is unbelievable that the parents would permit such reckless behaviour. Don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer. These parents and their son need to understand there are consequences to this appalling level of indifference to human safety. Even if they just go through the aggro of having to hire counsel to respond, it will leave a lasting impression with them, and possibly avert another incident.

    • I agree. The actions taken so far (or rather lack of) by the teenager’s parents or the authorities do nothing to stop this kid from doing this, or worse, to someone else. These parents deserve a more severe punishment than the kid.

  8. I am so shocked by what happened to your son, and the astonishing outcome when the parents and police were informed of “this kids” behavior!!
    I mean it’s one thing if you are away from civilization, shooting at a can or some other non living item and there is no one around that could get hurt (he shouldn’t be unsupervised anyway)!!
    But to allow “this child” to shoot towards the lake and forest of a busy cottage area??
    I’m sure that if it was one of his parents that were shot, they wouldn’t be so aloof to the situation.
    That is a nasty welt/cut your son received, not to mention his emotional state!!
    I shutter to think of the damage if it was a direct hit and not on an angle.
    If the cops aren’t going to set a standard and make the kid/and parents responsible then I agree, go with a civil suit, and keep it in the news!!
    Who says that in the future he won’t injure again or kill some innocent person or someone’s pet??
    My Niece hunts to put food on the table, single Mom with 4 kids. She taught herself, took the course, got her license and she’s safe!!
    She offered to teach my almost 16 year old daughter to hunt, but only if she is serious and has to take the course as well, then she will take my teen under her wing. My husband went and bought our daughter a pellet gun with the intent that it be used for target practice “at a gun club”, where it is a safer place to learn.
    And that’s where I want her to learn, until she is good enough to graduate to a hunting rifle or whatever they use.
    I’m not knowledgable in hunting or guns, I’ve been to a gun club before for target practice using a 9mm and a magnum. I have respect for the weapon and I wouldn’t do, nor would I let my daughter do what these idiot parents and idiot child let the child do.
    It’s not rocket science, it’s just common sense.

  9. I believe that something should be done, like a civil action suit, also. Anything that hits the parents pocketbook should make them sit-up and take notice. Otherwise, when it happens again, and it will, you might feel guilty about not pursuing this “small” incident, when something really bad happens.

  10. Matt, you don’t know me but I came across your story after reading your friends’ update on Facebook/Huffington post. I am absolutely shaking with anger. How you are able to be calm enough to even write properly is beyond me. I have always said that here in North America we are quick to use lawyers to get what we want but if that is the only way to get some recourse here I think what others are encouraging you to do may make sense. Not for financial gain but for punishment! And a lesson! How can the parents do this? Again – makes me so angry! I am so sorry about your son. I hope some good can come out of this traumatic event. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  11. Wow that is disgusting!! U are a better person then me I don’t think they would be around today if it were me. I also would have put so much detail that they and everyone else knew who it was. So glad your little one is ok ๐Ÿ™‚ just think what goes around comes around.

  12. Was just re reading my comment and it sounded like I was judging and so not meant to sound that way. I totally understand why u could not do anything else. I love that u are strong enough to get this out there for everyone to see and learn from ๐Ÿ˜‰ thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Please call the Highlands Shores Children’s Aid in Bancroft to report this incident. Even though police are unwilling to press charges CAS will have a lengthy conversation with these parents about allowing there child to have access to a firearm. Glad to hear your little one is okay!

  14. My step daughter did the same thing. In her rage, she went and got a water rifle and shot a small boy (who was harassing her) a few times. She wasn’t charged but she did have to go through the system. The initial charge was assault with a weapon. The judge was amazing as it scared her to bits. She was told that she could of been kicked out of school as it was an assault charge. She needed to go to court a few times, write an essay about assault and a few more tasks before the charge was dropped. She was only 15. She realized her mistake and made things right.

    What the authorities have done in this instance, no one is responsible for the assault. This young boy didn’t take anything seriously when the consequences could have been devastating! It was still an assault!! What has he learned – you can shoot people! This is disgusting!!!

  15. Matt, Call CAS. These unfit parents need their child removed from their home . Civil action and media coverage too. I posted your story on my Facebook, I have media friends who will read this. I have a cottage on the Highlands too. XOXO to you and your family. Sandra

  16. omg I saw the ambulance go by on Hartsmere rd, I cant believe this, we were out on W lake all weekend with our 3 kids. these parents need to wake up. I am so glad your little man is ok. have a talk to the cottagers assoc. about it too it cant hurt.

  17. First of all I m so happy and relieved to here that your son and family are all safe and sound for it could have been a lot worse. I cannot believe that the police have not pressed charges it makes my stomach sick really. They are supposed to be there to protect and serve and they did neither. If the police were from the hastings highlands area (Bancroft) than it makes it really clear to me why nothing was done, because they never do anything there properly they are a joke and a waste of time . my rant about them is a whole different ball park, but ultimately the parents of this child shooting the rifle need a reality check as well and should be charged for even letting their son have the rifle and be shooting it in the location that they were, what the hell is wrong with people today and our justice system ? wow blows my mind but so glad to hear u are all okay.

  18. Too bad that the cops were not our local OPP. I was nearly shot by BBs being shot at cats that happened to be following me along a wooded trail a few years back. They took the gun and would have searched for it if they had to. I was infuriated that this kid was shooting at cats. I am glad your son will be fine.

  19. …So sorry to hear your story…but happy your little boy and family are all doing well…I agree with Sandra…children’s aid needs to be involved…this boy who shot your son needs to be taught a lesson…seeing as his parents are idiots…and your police are a joke…hard to believe someone can shoot another person with a BB gun and get away with it!…what the heck is this world coming too…if nothing else his parents should be charged…luckily your little man is young…and will hopefully suffer no mental side affects…your story only proves how scary our world is really becoming and how the police are unreliable…hugs to your little man…

  20. Thank you to everyone for the support. We are truly grateful that our son (or anyone else on the lake that day) was not seriously injured and really we just want to ensure that this never happens again. We appreciate ALL of the advice we have received as well. The story got the attention of a producer at Canada AM on CTV and my wife and I will be on tomorrow morning at 7:15am to talk about the incident and gun safety in general. If he behaves, our son may be on as well…that’s a big IF ๐Ÿ™‚ At the very least, we would like this incident to increase the awareness that if you let your child have a gun, you need to have full control over where he/she is shooting to ensure both your child’s safety as well as the safety of other people in the vicinity.

    • This is truly unbelievable , or is it ? First of all I don’t understand kids having pellet guns at all , my daughter was shot by one in close range and it was extremely painful for her. Sadly so many parents don’t have a clue as to what is right. I’m sorry these parents didn’t at the very least apologize.
      I asked a police officer recently what they were doing about the drug problem at our local high schools…he said they could arrest kids all day for drugs but their parents aren’t willing to follow through with consequences or punishments , they take a PROVE IT stance…and defend their kids…its truly sad, it’s a social tragedy . Judges only slap them on the hand or send them to a program!
      I hope you will be able to once again enjoy a peaceful cottage experience in the future.

  21. I sent this email today, to:
    Bancroft OPP:
    Children’s Aid Society, Bancroft:


    I am a concerned citizen and mother from Mississauga and Bancroft, Ontario.

    I am writing to advise you of a dangerous situation in the Bancroft area.

    Please read this article about a toddler being shot at the cottage by a 13 year old, no action by teens parents, no changes laid. Please get details and address from Matt Sanchez, act and respond to this situation.

    My concerns are;
    โ€ขThe teen continues to injure or kill.
    โ€ขThe teens parents aren’t guided and educated by CAS or the Bancroft OPP on gun safety regarding their teen.

    In this situation, the Children’s Aid Society and Bancroft OPP have a responsibility to serve and protect, neither of which have been demonstrated.

    I do expect a reply, and the toddler’s father Matt Sanchez be contacted with a course of action from CAS and the Bancroft OPP addressing this particular incident.

    Sandra Glover Clarke

    telephone & text: 416-993-9718

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  22. I am really disturbed by what has happened to your family, and very thankful to know your sweet son is recovering. This could have been so much worse, and for the lad’s parents to brush this off is not acceptable, certainly will not teach their son anything at all. Really, who knows what his intentions were, but I truly believe he knew exactly what he was doing. These parents have cause to be concerned, my advice hide all guns & watch your back, hopefully the school he attends is aware of this.

  23. Was this at Lake Weslemkoon? The lake is actually regularly policed by PC Donald Tellier from Napanee OPP. Call him instead of Bancroft OPP! He is very interested in the lake.

  24. I honestly don’t know how you didn’t end up charged with assault for going after the kid’s parents! Even just reading of their blatant nonchalance, I am infuriated. People like that deserve a parent’s wrath. I’m happy your son is okay and commend you for your self control. In an ever-increasingly litigious society, there should be a way to at least sue these losers. I’d like to picture them as being poor and uneducated, but something tells me they might be the opposite.

  25. Hello Matt,

    I came across your story while searching for information on bb guns and if they were legal because I am violently against guns and do not want my children any where near them. I found out from my 9 year old that his father (my ex) lets them shoot a bb gun at his cottage and that he keeps a “gun” in his car to “ward off bad guys”. The worst part of this – my ex is a police officer. I also learned that he on occasion has brought his work gun home, showed it to the kids and stored it in a closet overnight! His father has a hunting rifle in the house someplace. Yes I spoke to them many times, it even was addressed in a legal custody issue but he denies it and says the children are lying. Let me tell you, two 9 year olds and a 12 year old are not lying if they all can tell the same things over and over again. We all know the dangers of any type of weapon in little, innocent hands. Your story made me realize how it could be my children shooting and hurting someone. But without the law on our side – what can we do? I think we need to start looking into changing the laws to protect our children ….

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