California Officer Accidentally Shoots Himself

ORANGE, Calif. — An off-duty Orange police officer, honored for making hundreds of DUI arrests, accidentally shot himself in the leg early Sunday at a local sports bar.

In what police are calling an "accidental discharge," Officer Justin McGowan shot himself just above the right knee about 2 a.m. Sunday at the O.C. Sports Grill, 450 N. State College Blvd., said Sgt. Fred Lopez.

The bullet changed trajectory after hitting McGowan's knee and came to rest in his foot, missing all major arteries, Lopez said.

Police are investigating how McGowan, 28, shot himself with his department-issued, .38-caliber backup weapon, Lopez said.

There is no indication of any criminal involvement or altercation, he said.

"We're conducting our own investigation. Right now, what we're concerned about is his health," Lopez said.

A city official close to the investigation said security video taken at the bar showed that McGowan was standing, with the gun in his pocket and his hand in the same pocket, when the weapon went off.

McGowan, an eight-year veteran at the department, had been drinking alcohol at the bar, but a blood test was not administered until hours after the incident, the city official said.

The Orange Police Department has a policy against officers carrying guns while drinking, Lopez said.

McGowan reported the shooting himself, telephoning his immediate supervisor, Lopez said.

He was driven to a hospital by his wife and friends.

McGowan is a top official with the Orange Police Association.

Since at least 2008, he has been honored yearly by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his DUI arrests, notching a high of 314 in 2008.

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