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Woman kills boyfriend while playing with gun, witness says

Authorities say Mandy Avis, 20, inset, was playing with a .22-caliber gun with her boyfriend, Michael Ward, 23, on Wednesday in their apartment in building on Second Avenue N in St. Petersburg. She pointed it at his chest and pulled the trigger, believing it wasn't loaded, they said, but it was.
Published Dec. 13, 2013

The revolver was a new purchase, bought in Tampa by 23-year-old Michael Ward less than a day before it fired the bullet that killed him.

He showed his girlfriend, 20-year-old Mandy Avis, how to handle and shoot the gun, her roommate said.

About 6 p.m. Wednesday, police said, Avis and Ward were playing with the .22-caliber gun when she pointed it at his chest and pulled the trigger, believing it wasn't loaded. A bullet hit him in the chest.

On Thursday morning, their roommate, Ashley Mcallister, stood in front of their apartment on Second Avenue N and described how quickly Ward faded away.

"He turned heavy, just pale, and then just gone," Mcallister, 25, said. A minute before, it seemed, he was running from the room, yelling, "You shot me, you shot me," she said.

Her boyfriend, Diontei Arthur, tried to carry Ward to the car, but he couldn't hold him up. An ambulance took him to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, but Ward died on the way.

Mcallister said the couple weren't arguing. They'd been playing with the gun since Ward bought it, and he'd showed Avis how to load and handle the weapon.

"Her family isn't into guns," Mcallister said. "They don't keep guns in the house."

Mcallister works with Avis at a Waffle House in St. Pete Beach. The couple had been dating for about a year, Mcallister said, and after a breakup Ward came back to their apartment about two months ago.

They had been smoking marijuana the night Ward was shot, police said.

"It wasn't intentional," Mcallister said. "It wasn't like they had issues, it wasn't like she was a bad girl. It was just a stupid accident that was played off the wrong way."

According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Records, neither Ward nor Avis had ever been arrested for a crime in Florida. Avis, who faces a charge of manslaughter, was transported to the Pinellas County Jail, where she remained Thursday without bail.

Claire Wiseman can be reached at or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.


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