PACIFICA, Calif. — A man trying to prove that guns are safe accidentally killed his 15-year-old stepdaughter, then used the same pistol to take his own life after his wife refused to kill him, police said Friday.
"He was trying to show it was harmless," said Police Lt. Ed Burton. "It's tragic. The most dangerous guns are those that are supposedly unloaded."
The New Year's Day tragedy began as labor negotiator Gordon Shadwick, 46, was "playing with" his 9-millimeter semi-automatic Smith & Wesson pistol in the living room of the family home in Pacifica, about five miles south of San Francisco, Burton said.
Virginia Ann Shadwick told officers that when she and her daughter, Laila Uthman, entered the room, Shadwick renewed a discussion with his wife about the safety of firearms, Burton said.
He said Shadwick was "dry-firing" the gun without incident to show "that a gun that's not loaded is not a danger."
But a final pull fired one round, and the slug struck the 15-year-old honor student in the head, killing her instantly.
A distraught Shadwick then "blocked (his wife), asking her to take the gun and kill him, then knelt down in front of her in the kitchen doorway and shot himself," Burton said.
"We're not positive how it happened," Burton said. "The gun won't fire at all without a clip in it, but it will dry-fire with a full clip unless you work the slide and manually put one (bullet) in the chamber. We're still investigating."
Shadwick was a representative of the California Faculty Assn., a university labor union. His wife is the union president and a librarian at San Francisco State University. They had no other children.
"I can understand why Gordon killed himself," said San Francisco State Provost Lawrence Ianni, a friend of the couple's. "He genuinely loved his stepdaughter and probably felt he could never face (Virginia) Ann again."