CU dental school employee loses job, faces charges in accidental shooting at work

Mary Loeb was showing colleagues new mini-revolver

AURORA, Colo. - Two female co-workers were excited to see a business manager's new "mini-revolver" until it accidentally fired at the University of Colorado's dental school in Aurora last week.

The bullet ricocheted off a metal desk and the carpeted floor and fragments hit a female colleague in the back of her leg, according to a report released Thursday by CU's Anschutz Medical Campus Police Department.

The accidental discharge left the gun owner, Mary Beth Loeb, 49, with a cut finger and co-worker Lilibeth Lopez-Gonzales, 33, with two small cuts on the back of her calf.

Now, Loeb has lost her job at the School of Dental Medicine and was cited for two violations, prohibited use of weapons and unlawful conduct on public property, according to the police report.

CU spokesman Dan Meyers said Loeb, a financial business manager in the dental school, was no longer a CU employee as of Wednesday, but personnel privacy rules prevented him from providing further details.

Loeb was apologetic, telling police, "It was an accident," "It's my fault," and "I'm so sorry," according to the report.

An officer took Loeb aside to assist her after the shooting, "because she seemed to be very stressed out and upset with herself about the incident," the report said.  

The mishap happened about 10:42 a.m. Friday in an office where Loeb and the other women worked.

Loeb's husband later told police that he had urged her to get a handgun and a permit to carry a concealed gun, because the couple lives two blocks from the home of Jessica Ridgeway, the 10-year-old Westminster girl who was kidnapped and slain while walking toward school last month.

Loeb also told police she was concerned after getting email reports about thefts on campus, the police report said. Officers confirmed the woman had a valid Concealed Handgun Permit.

Loeb told police that she had been concerned about a suspicious man who appeared to be following her as she arrived on campus Friday. She had reported the suspicious man to campus police, but officers were unable to find him.

Loeb told police she was talking about the strange man with her two colleagues at the office and decided to show them her new handgun, a tiny silver-and-black ".22 Magnum," made by North American Arms Inc., according to the police report.

 North American Arms, of Provo, Utah, specializes in mini-revolvers, with gun barrels under 2-inches long.

"Our .22 Magnum Mini-Revolver is the ultimate in up front, personal, close-in protection. It's small, easy to conceal and safe to carry," the gun-maker's website says. "Whether you carry it for hiking and camping, or for self-defense, this gun delivers when you need it most."

Co-worker Virginia Guerrero, 29, told police "they were happy to see the gun and admired how small it was."

Lopez-Gonzales added the Guerrero was "excited" to see the gun and "they were thinking about getting one for themselves."

In an effort to be safe, Loeb said she had removed the cylinder containing the bullets from the gun before showing it to her co-workers, the report said.

But as Loeb later tried to reassemble the gun, she said the cylinder wouldn't slide back into the gun frame, the report said.

Suddenly, there's was a "pop" and Lopez-Gonzales, who had walked over to a photocopying machine, said she felt a pain in the back of her leg, "like something bit me," the report said.

A fourth woman entering the office told police she heard the pop and then saw Lopez-Gonzales bending over holding her leg and Loeb standing up from her chair and holding her finger.

Loeb immediately told a colleague to call police, the report said.

Lopez-Gonzales declined emergency medical treatment and drove herself to a hospital, where doctors did not find any bullet fragments in her wounded leg, the report said.

In March, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld an appeals-court ruling striking down a University of Colorado gun ban on its campuses. The court said CU regents overstepped their authority by refusing to allow permitted concealed weapons on campus.

Loeb told police she was aware of campus-wide emails sent on behalf of CU President Bruce D. Benson stating that a "'(concealed handgun) permit does not authorize the permittee to use a handgun in a manner that would violate a provision of the law,' such as a negligent discharge," the police report said. 

Print this article Back to Top