Woman seriously injured after she says boyfriend’s gun discharged accidentally

Jul 15, 2022, 5:10 PM | Updated: 5:27 pm
FILE PHOTO (Deseret News)...
FILE PHOTO (Deseret News)
(Deseret News)

IRON COUNTY, Utah — A woman is seriously injured after being shot in the back from an alleged accidental discharge of a firearm.

According to court documents, the Iron County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a woman with a gunshot wound to her lower back in Beryl, Utah, around 3 p.m. Thursday.

Deputies responded to a neighbor’s home- where the shooting victim had been dropped off for care.

The woman stated “the injury was accidental and caused by a firearm that was propped against a wall” and “the gun was knocked over by the dogs causing it to discharge.”

She reported she had been dropped off at the neighbor’s house by her boyfriend, James Cox, who didn’t want to get in trouble with police for other warrants against him.

The woman told deputies she used marijuana and methamphetamines.

She was taken by helicopter and transported to St. George Regional Hospital for her injury.

Detectives conducted a follow up interview with the woman and she explained that she and Cox were having an ongoing argument. Because there are several mobile homes and style dwellings on the property located at 5600 N. 8274 West in Beryl, she had chosen to separate herself from Cox by residing in one of the other trailers.

On Thursday, Cox was “upset and entered her trailer with a 22 caliber Rifle under his arm.” He confronted the woman and accused her of cheating on him, asking to see her phone.

However, instead of letting Cox see her phone, the woman walked out of the trailer through the open door. As she was leaving, several of the dogs came with her and as she stepped off the stairway to the ground, she “heard a gunshot and felt immediate pain.”

Cox “quickly apologized and said it was an accident.”

Initial medical evaluations have indicated the bullet is lodged in proximity to the spine, about an inch to the left. Removal could cause addition injury and the woman has experienced paralysis in her right leg.

By 6 p.m. deputies responded to 5600 North 8274 West in Beryl, which was where the incident was reported to have occurred. However, despite multiple attempts, Cox would not acknowledge deputies or come out of the house when asked.

Deputies secured a search warrant for the property and returned with the Iron Metro SWAT Team to search the residence.

They were able to find Cox on the property as well as a bag with a white substance consistent with methamphetamine,” several smoking devices consistent with the use of methamphetamines and Marijuana.”

According to court documents, “22 caliber Marlin semiautomatic rifle, was located on a bed in the back bedroom of a trailer in the center of the property. The riffle was concealed with a blanket and a piece of cardboard. The fire arm was loaded with 13 rounds of ammunition and the safety was not on.”  A box of 22 caliber ammunition was also located.

Since it was reported that Cox was concerned about previous warrants, Deputies completed a records check and found that Cox had felony warrants and is wanted by law enforcement in California. He is also a firearms restricted person.

In an interview with Cox, he confirmed there had been an argument between him and his girlfriend and the gun went off. He said he had placed the firearm against the wall and it was knocked over by the dogs, causing it to discharge.

Cox said he picked her up at the bottom of the stairs and took her to their neighbor’s house because he was “worried about his warrants and getting in trouble.”

Cox denied shooting her intentionally and when questioned about the woman’s statement that when she walked past him he was holding the gun, Cox said, “I wasn’t though, she was high.”

Investigators found the initial location of the gunshot injury and found three spent shell casings outside where the woman claimed to be stepping down from the stairs when exiting the trailer.

Two of the casings were weathered and “appeared older,” while one was shiny and not weathered.

Court documents state, “Measurements were collected and photographed at the scene.  An accidental discharge from the firearm falling on the ground, would subject the wound at approximately two feet above ground level.  [the woman] is 5’3 Placing an entry wound between the lower buttocks and knee area.”

Cox was arrested by police on suspicion of the following: felony discharge of a firearm – directed at a person, possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, failure to stop at the command of law enforcement, tampering with evidence, possession of an illegal substance, use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

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Woman seriously injured after she says boyfriend’s gun discharged accidentally