Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Gun Range Death of Christopher Bizilj

Colin and Christopher Shoot the Machine Gun

According to Michael Spano, Dr. Bizilj wanted his sons to have the experience of shooting a fully-automatic weapon. With the regular Uzi malfunctioning, the next choice became the Micro Uzi, an especially small Israeli military weapon used by soldiers in close quarters because its barrel is so short (roughly 5 inches long) and the weapon so powerful, capable of firing 1,200-1,700 rounds per minute—at least 20 bullets per second, which used the same 9 mm ammunition as the regular Uzi. Michael Spano said he warned Dr. Bizilj that the gun "kicks hard and shoots fast" and might not be the best choice for his sons. Undeterred, Dr. Bizilj asked that his sons have the chance to shoot in fully automatic mode.

Michael Spano (left) and Christopher just before the accident
Michael Spano (left) and Christopher just before
the accident

When Colin finished, Christopher asked "Dad, can it be my turn now?" When told it was, Christopher ran up to the firing line where Michael Spano reloaded and showed him how to use the machine gun. Dr. Bizilj stood behind the line capturing his son's experience on video. Christopher fired off an initial blast with the Micro Uzi. The gun jammed almost immediately. Michael Spano cleared the jam and handed the gun back to Christopher.

What came next happened so fast, it was hard to make out even on the videotape captured on Dr. Bizilj's video camera. The four-foot, three-inch, 66 pound Christopher pulled the trigger and the Micro Uzi fired a powerful burst. The recoil forced the gun barrel up and the butt stock of the gun slipped off Christopher's chest. The gun, still firing, spun around Christopher's trigger finger until the barrel pointed up and back toward Christopher. A fatal bullet smashed into his head, sending a piece of his skull shooting up toward the sky.

Dr. Bizilj ran to his son, but when he cupped his hand around the back of his son's head he felt a chunk of cranium missing. Range officers were alerted and called an immediate cease-fire. A club member ran for a first aid kit while an ambulance was called. For all intents and purposes, though, Christopher Bizilj's life ended with the gunshot wound, although he was only pronounced dead later at a local hospital.

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