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They were standing at a Publix register when her purse fell. Her Derringer fired and hit him.

Vernon Messier, 69, was accidentally shot in the shin Sunday afternoon at a Publix supermarket, 2121 Collier Pkwy. in Land O’ Lakes. [Google]
Vernon Messier, 69, was accidentally shot in the shin Sunday afternoon at a Publix supermarket, 2121 Collier Pkwy. in Land O’ Lakes. [Google]
Published May 6, 2019

A shopper who was shot inside a Land O' Lakes Publix supermarket was hit in the shin by a bullet from a gun in his wife's purse.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office initially reported that the victim accidentally shot himself about 2 p.m. Sunday.

But after Publix provided video of the incident, the Sheriff's Office learned that the 69-year-old victim, Vernon Messier, was checking out at the cash register with his wife Lillian when her purse fell from the counter to the ground and the gun apparently discharged.

The video from the Publix at 2121 Collier Pkwy. shows Vernon Messier flinch and drop to the ground. He was hit in the lower right shin.

A hole was found in the side of the purse afterward, the Sheriff's Office said. Lillian Messier, 67, was carrying a two-shot Derringer pistol and had a concealed carry permit, the Sheriff's Office said.

Messier was in stable condition and no criminal charges are expected, the Sheriff's Office said.

On Twitter, Andy Taylor, aide to Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore, said he witnessed the incident.

"It would be really weird to be guy NEXT to him in line at cashier. I wonder what THAT guy is thinking," Taylor wrote. "Hello, I am the guy that was next in line at cashier."

There was no "stampede of people or mass panic," Taylor added, and Publix' staff and managers "did a great job (and got my groceries to next aisle to be rang up, gave me water while waiting to speak)."

Contact Paul Guzzo at pguzzo@tampabay.com or follow @PGuzzoTimes.

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