Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Gun Range Death of Christopher Bizilj

The Bizilj Family Decided to Attend the Gun Show


Christopher Bizilj
Christopher Bizilj

Registered nurse Gary Hobaica had worked with Dr. Charles Bizilj for 20 years. They were friends and had previously gone shooting together with Bizilj's two sons Colin, 11, and Christopher, 8. It was Hobaica who had seen the gun show flyer and suggested to Dr. Bizilj that it might be a fun excursion for the boys. The boys were excited about a chance to fire more powerful guns than the pistols and rifles they had shot in the past; Christopher even picked out a special camouflage outfit to wear to the gun show.

On Sunday morning October 26, 2008, the Biziljs left their home in Ashford, Conn., and drove up to Agawam, Mass., to meet Hobaica. Hobaica drove Dr. Bizilj, his two sons and Bizilj's father-in-law Rudy Wargo to Westfield for the gun show.

After paying the admission fee, Dr. Charles Bizilj wrote in the names of his two boys and signed a waiver releasing and indemnifying COP Firearms, the Westfield Sportsman's Club and their agents from liability.

Entrance to Westfield Sportsman's Club
Entrance to Westfield Sportsman's Club

The Bizilj party walked around the grounds for about a half-hour watching the shooting and generally taking in the scene. At noon, the shooting was halted for an hour's lunch break. Fleury had noted lines backing up during the morning session, so he asked machine gun provider Domenico Spano over the break whether his son Michael, 15, would be helping out on the line. Spano answered affirmatively. After lunch, the Biziljs decided to shoot. Dr. Bizilj paid for ammunition for a selection of guns for himself, his father-in-law and his two sons, including an MP5 and an Uzi

After waiting in line for 20 minutes or so, it was the Biziljs' turn. Their line officer turned out to be Michael Spano. The younger Spano was familiar with machine guns, having helped his father with their construction and maintenance since he was 6. However, Michael Spano was too young to have earned an instructor's license. Still, nothing about the younger Spano's machine gun handling and instruction worried the Bizilj party. Dr. Bizilj shot machine guns without incident, as did his father-in-law. Next was Colin's turn to shoot as his father filmed with his digital camera. Right away, there was a problem. The Uzi's fully automatic setting malfunctioned, so Colin could only shoot a single shot per trigger pull instead of the continuous series of shots with a single trigger pull that characterize a fully automatic machine gun.

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