Prison sentence possible in hotel shooting

A man who was showing off a handgun when it accidentally discharged in a hotel room during a football party, wounding a stranger in an adjoining room, faces possible prison time under a plea agreement.

Zachariah McCullough, 26, is exposed to as little as probation, or up to 18 months in prison, after pleading guilty Friday to attempted illegal discharge of a firearm, third-degree assault and violation of probation terms.

McCullough, who is free on bond, will be sentenced Feb. 13 before District Judge Valerie Robison.

McCullough was serving probation after failing to register as a sex offender when he accidentally shot a man at Mesa Inn, 704 Horizon Drive, on the night of Sept. 29, 2012. He was among a group of three men drinking beer and watching a football game.

An arrest affidavit said a witness told officers that as they were watching the game, McCullough suddenly removed a large revolver, a .41 caliber Ruger, from a gun case and starting “boasting” about the weapon. He was manipulating the gun when it suddenly discharged, “blasting a large hole” in the south wall of the room, the affidavit said.

Juan Lara, 20, who was staying in the room next door, was struck by the errant round in the right shoulder. Lara didn’t attend Friday’s hearing. McCullough and his friends drove away in a sport-utility vehicle before police arrived at the hotel. They caught up with him at a Grand Junction home, while McCullough initially denied involvement before he was arrested. He later admitted to mishandling the weapon.

McCullough’s attorney, Tony Link, told the judge Friday his client was convicted of third-degree assault in an unrelated case last week in El Paso County.


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