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Man claims rifle misfired, led to teen's death

A rifle that has been linked to a 2000 killing of a 9-year-old Montana boy claimed the life of an East Coast teenager in late 2011. The FBI has become the most recent addition to the investigative team for the products liability case, which is concerned with the alleged malfunctions associated with the Remington 700 model rifle.

The young woman, 16, was shot in late December as she waited in the front yard of a home in Columbus County. The girl had been standing in the yard with her friend and her godmother, whom she had been visiting for the holidays. At about 11 a.m. on December 23, all three of the women were shot by the same bullet as they began walking toward a vehicle parked in the home's driveway. The girl was killed, and her friend and godmother were injured.

The bullet allegedly came from a small home across the street, where a 23-year-old man said he was removing a gun from a gun case. The man ran out of his house when he realized what had happened and he appeared distraught, according to witnesses. The man has testified that the gun fired without pressure on the trigger. The gun was found about four feet from a shattered window inside the man's home, according to police. He was arrested, but he was later released and has not yet been charged with a crime.

The FBI has joined the investigation after the girl's family expressed concern that the young man had not been charged in the case. District attorneys have said that they are seriously considering ruling the death an accident and it is unlikely that charges will be pressed at all. The FBI's civil rights unit has begun contributing to the investigation because the victim was black and the man whose gun allegedly misfired is white. Investigators said that they were concerned about some material they found in the home, which may indicate that the incident was a hate crime.

More than 70 lawsuits are currently pending against Remington, a long-time gun manufacturer based in America. Those are all related to the model 700 rifle, which has allegedly discharged a number of times without trigger pulls.

Source: BND.com, "1 bullet, 3 victims, many questions in North Carolina shooting," Fred Clansen-Kelly, April 17, 2012

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