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Restaurant shooting witness describes incident
Mendon, N.Y. -- A man accidentally fired a gun inside a busy restaurant, shooting himself and grazing a friend Saturday afternoon.
"He had the gun is his pocket, and I don't know how he shot himself but the gun went off," said Ellen Smith, who was inside when it happened. "He shot himself through his hand and his thigh and the bullet went through his leg and shot his friend's foot."
Smith was eating lunch with a friend at the Cottage Hotel, just a few tables from where the gun went off.
"It sounded like a firecracker or a M-80 went off. I did not know what it was for that split moment," said Smith. "I even ducked I just turned and looked, like 'What just happened?'"
According to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, John Cassata, 70, took out the handgun to show his friends when he fired it by accident.
"He kept saying 'I have a permit, I have a permit,'" said Smith. "Well, if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, you need to do so responsibly."
Smith ran over to help Cassata, who quickly went into shock.
"His face turned gray, there was blood everywhere and there was no way of easily cleaning this up," Smith said. "It was a very serious injury."
Cassata and his friend were both treated and released from the hospital and, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, no charges have been filed.
"I don't know what people are thinking when they carry a pistol into a family restaurant," Smith said. "There was a family right next to him with a small baby, maybe two months old, and a toddler."
In a crowded restaurant, in the middle of the lunchtime rush, Smith said Cassata is lucky he did not seriously injure or kill someone.
"If the gun had been in a different pocket, he could have shot one of those children," Smith said. "If it had been pointed in a different direction, it could have hit me or my friend or the waiter."