Off-Duty Officer Accidently Shoots Himself at OC Sports Bar

An off-duty police officer who had been drinking accidently shot himself in the leg with his service weapon at an Orange County sports bar.

Justin McGowan, 28, was injured when his .38-caliber handgun went off in his pocket around 2 a.m. Sunday at the OC Sports Grill, located at 450 N. State College Blvd., according to the Orange Police Department.

"There was nothing criminal about what happened," OPD Sgt. Fred Lopez said Wednesday. "He was off duty. He was shot in the leg and is going to be OK. …He is using his own sick time while he recuperates."

The bar's owner Behrod Ganjifard said that the officer had two shots and another drink that night.

Ganjifard added that McGowan is a trained officer, and that he would rather have McGowan at the bar with a gun than without.

When the gun went off, it was McGowan that tried to calm down the bar patrons, Ganjifard  said.

"I believe officers are trained to handle it," he said. "Accidents happen and this was just an accident."


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Internal affairs is investigating the incident, Lopez said.

"As a sworn officer, he can take his firearm anywhere in the United States," Lopez said. "The department does not have a policy to say where he can take his firearm or not. We do have a policy that says you cannot be drinking and carrying a firearm."

McGowan has been honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) every year since 2008 for making hundreds of DUI arrests.

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously identified McGowan as Lopez. The story has since been updated.

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