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Breaking News: Minigun death in Pennsylvania, East Coast settles lawsuit over death

By The Small Arms Review Editorial Staff

Minigun death in Pennsylvania-2007
East Coast settles lawsuit over death

March 8, 2012
By Phil Ray (, The Altoona Mirror

A Delaware County lawsuit against East Coast Gun Sales and others, stemming from the accidental shooting death of a Hollidaysburg man during a 2007 social event was settled out of court late Tuesday.

The family of Michael Kurty asked for at least $3 million because the 36-year-old Kurty was killed while helping the president of East Coast Gun Sales, James Faith, clear a bullet that had jammed in a rebuilt Gatling gun, or a machine gun that fires 3,000 bullets a minute.

The gun was being demonstrated and was on display on Sept. 12, 2007, during the social event for employees of Digital Solutions Inc., an Altoona company, at the Hollidaysburg Sportsmen's Club in Frankstown Township.

The military-style gun had an electrically activated trigger and was cooled by water.

The gun became jammed and Faith unplugged the electrical cord leading to the trigger believing the gun could not fire with the power shut off, court documents state.

Faith asked Kurty to help clear the jammed bullet. The gun had a rotating series of barrels. When Faith attempted to unjam the gun, "he did not know which direction was appropriate for rotating the barrel of gun in order to safely clear it," the lawsuit stated.

Kurty was in front of the gun, and as the barrel turned, it fired a bullet that resulted in his death. Kurty's wife, Laura, the administrix of his estate, was within hearing range when the incident occurred, the lawsuit stated.

The civil lawsuit charged East Coast Gun Sales and Faith with negligence and other civil offenses for bringing the weapon to a location where the public could gain access to it, and it also charged Howard J. Block of Upper Darby, and his company, J.B. Arms, with negligence.

Faith and East Coast Gun Sales bought the dismantled and nonfunctioning "minigun" in 2007 and Block restored it, according to the lawsuit.

One of Faith's attorneys, Daniel S. Altschuler of Philadelphia, said Wednesday he was not permitted to comment on the settlement, which may not be made public. Attorneys for Kurty's family, Block and Block's company were not available for comment Wednesday.

East Coast Gun Sales started a going out of business sale Feb. 11 at its Fairway Drive, Altoona, location.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has confirmed it is investigating the company, but Special Agent Steve Bartholomew would not provide details.

Kurty was an auxillary police officer for the Duncansville Police Department and served as a firearms instructor for local law enforcement agencies. He left behind four children.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468. © Copyright 2012 The Altoona Mirror.


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