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Shooting incident shatters man's faith in justice

Published Oct. 16, 2005

It's bad enough almost being shot by a stray bullet, but now Arthur Smallwood feels as if justice also has passed him by. When two hunters accidentally shot out his car windows as he drove on Interstate 75 in November, Smallwood took it in stride. He had the windows repaired and thanked God for his life. The bullet that shattered the windows missed him by 6 inches.

Now, the 71-year-old Brandon resident is angry.

Early this month, Smallwood learned that charges against the hunters were dismissed. At a court hearing in Plant City, reckless shooting charges against Sean Haas, 21, and Michael Gillette, 21, were dropped by the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office because there was not enough evidence to prove the young men fired the shots that hit Smallwood's car.

The two men were arrested minutes after the shooting in woods adjacent to I-75.

"It made me feel just terrible," Smallwood said Tuesday. "They didn't even get a reprimand, a fine or slap on the wrist. I think they should do something. You can't just go around shooting guns."

Smallwood said that although he was annoyed, he plans to drop the matter.

"There's nothing we can do, kid," he said.

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