A man in Bartow shot himself in the leg waiting outside of a school, police say

It's the latest in a spate of accidental shootings in Florida.
DIRK SHADD   |   Times
Ryan Thomas, owner of Tampa Carry, displays a Glock 19, at Tampa Carry, 321 E Robertson St., in Brandon on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. There are have been four accidental shootings in the Tampa Bay area in the last few weeks, one of them fatal. These incidents make firearms trainers like Ryan Thomas, owner of Tampa Carry, cringe. This fire arms is the style of gun involved in one of the local incidents.
DIRK SHADD | Times Ryan Thomas, owner of Tampa Carry, displays a Glock 19, at Tampa Carry, 321 E Robertson St., in Brandon on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. There are have been four accidental shootings in the Tampa Bay area in the last few weeks, one of them fatal. These incidents make firearms trainers like Ryan Thomas, owner of Tampa Carry, cringe. This fire arms is the style of gun involved in one of the local incidents.
Published May 22
Updated May 22

A 39-year-old Lakeland man Tuesday joined the growing epidemic of accidental shooting victims in Florida, according to police in Bartow.

Police said Amel Villarreal Jr. was waiting to pick a family member up from Summerlin Academy around 4:10 p.m., after school hours. As he sat in a mini-van in the school’s visitor lot, police said, he took a gun from his waistband and attempted to stow it in the van's center console.

Before the 9mm semi-automatic pistol could be secured, however, police said Villarreal shot himself in the leg.

Police said Villarreal holds a valid Florida concealed carry permit.

In the last month, nearly half a dozen people in the Tampa Bay area alone have been involved in accidental shootings. Some have resulted in injury or death and some have taken place on school campuses. Recently, a Pasco deputy accidentally discharged his gun in a school cafeteria.

READ MORE: He was shot while standing in line at Publix. But how? Here’s how Pasco deputies figured it out.

Villarreal’s injury increases Florida’s standing as an outlier in the U.S. as the number of people injured in accidental shootings remains flat across the country, but has risen dramatically in the Sunshine State.

According to a recent Tampa Bay Times report, federal data shows a flat rate for injuries in accidental shootings nationwide. But in Florida, the number of people injured in accidental shootings increased 82 percent between 2007 and 2017.

READ MORE: Deputy’s gun fires in Pasco middle school cafeteria

Police said Villarreal’s injuries were not life threatening. He was transported to a hospital in stable condition.

No students were involved in the incident, but police said Villarreal was charges with possession of a firearm on a school campus, a felony.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts.

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