Not so Safe Gun-Safety Instructor Who Shot Student also Shot Girl in 1977

dunlapCathy Schmelzer couldn’t believe it when she read in the newspaper that Terry J. Dunlap Sr. — a firearms instructor — had accidentally shot someone.

“Oh no, he’s done it again!” she said she thought to herself. Schmelzer, 50, was Cathy Hessler, a 14-year-old Pickerington girl, when she was accidentally shot in 1977 by Dunlap during a Halloween hayride.

At the time, Dunlap was a Pickerington police department auxiliary lieutenant. According to a Dispatch account back then, Dunlap said he had fired his .38-caliber handgun into the air to create, in his words, a “scary effect” while taking his daughter and her friends for a “haunted hayride” on his rural property in Fairfield County.

Dunlap said he thought the gun was loaded with blanks. But a bullet ricocheted and hit Cathy Hessler in her right leg. The bullet was removed at Mount Carmel East hospital.

No criminal or departmental actions were taken against Dunlap because the shooting was deemed accidental.

So Schmelzer was incredulous to read recently that Dunlap had accidentally shot a student during a gun-safety class on Aug. 10.

She talked about it last week from her Prairie Township home, saying that when she read the story, “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’”

Dunlap, 73, is a Violet Township trustee seeking re-election in November. He formerly was a Pickerington police department captain and later, the community’s safety-service director.


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