Associated Students Beat Reporter
An accidental gunshot fired in an Isla Vista apartment complex Tuesday afternoon resulted in the arrest of third-year University of California, Santa Barbara geography major Kevin Tym.
According to a press release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the bullet, shot from Tym’s legally owned Glock 17 9mm handgun, was fired into the apartment adjacent to his. The residents of the neighboring unit reported the incident after the bullet lodged into a wall, first deflecting off of a television stand.
Upon searching Tym’s apartment, deputies discovered seven firearms, all legally owned by Tym, as well as 1,000 rounds of ammunition and a collection of assault rifle magazines. Tym was arrested and booked into jail under charges of negligent discharge of a firearm and possession of high capacity magazines, with bail set at $2,500.
As a competitive shooter, Tym said he uses around 500 rounds of ammunition per month for practices and competitions. Though the press release states that Tym admitted to playing with his gun at the time of the incident, he claims that in actuality he was practicing shooting techniques.
“I put it back in my holster temporarily while I was cleaning stuff,” he said. “I forgot that I loaded it, and then I went through my draw routine again and made a very stupid mistake, and I shouldn’t have, and I knew better.”
Second-year history major Mathew Burciaga, Tym’s neighbor, was first alerted to the misfire when he and his roommates heard a ringing noise and noticed that their TV had shifted in position and their coffee table had sustained residual damage.
“I [told] my roommates that a bullet just came through from somewhere, so we all immediately dropped to the ground, and we crawled across the floor to the windows to close the blinds, and once we [did] that we [got] on the phone with the police department,” Burciaga said.
Burciaga said the gunfire was made even more alarming by its timing, just four days after the shooting that left six UCSB students dead and several others injured.
“We all thought that it had been a repeat of Friday night,” Burciaga said. “We’re really shaken up. We’re really unnerved, and we’re just afraid for our safety.”
Tym has been a gun owner for around three years, and his involvement in competitive shooting is driven in part by his ambition to join the military after he has finished school at UCSB.
“[Shooting] was something that I wanted to get ahead of the game in, and it’s also been an interest of mine for a while,” he said.
As a protective measure, Burciaga suggested the creation of a registry that, much like a sexual offender registry, would alert residents as to whether their neighbors are gun owners. Though he recognized that shooting is a hobby, he found the amount of weaponry recovered in Tym’s apartment to be excessive.
“What student needs seven guns, 1,000 rounds of amo, and high capacity assault rifle clips?” Burciaga said. “And more importantly, why would you bring them to school with you? I mean, there’s no real need for it.”
Tym’s comments on gun ownership focused more on a need for better mental health-related regulation, and he said that present state gun laws do more to prevent law-abiding citizens from obtaining guns than to restrict access for criminals.
“Criminals are always going to find a way to do what they’re going to do,” Tym said. “It’s an area of lacking in California laws [that they are not] preventing criminals from obtaining guns legally.”
Though this incident occurred at a time when gun rights and regulation are a pertinent topic of discussion for the Isla Vista community, officials say that they found no connection between Tuesday’s events and the May 23 murders.
“We’re not relating this in any way [to] the Elliot Rodger shooting,” said Sergeant Mark Williams in an interview with KCSB radio station. “This is completely separate, and we have no concern that this young man was going to do anything like that.”