19 January 2009 by Published in: General News 5 comments

Thanks to reader Todd Berkoff (again) for passing this along.

The moron re-enactor who shot the 73-year old Union re-enactor at an event last year has been indicted, proving that idiocy can, indeed, be a crime. From Saturday’s edition of The New York Times:

Re-enactor Is Indicted in Shooting of a Yankee

Published: January 17, 2009
The mysterious shooting of a would-be Yankee cavalryman from the Bronx during the filming of a Civil War re-enactment in Virginia in September has been solved, according to the authorities, with the indictment of a latter-day Johnny Reb who, they say, accidentally fired a .44-caliber ball from an 1860 Army Colt pistol that was supposed to be empty.

The shot wounded Thomas Lord, a 73-year-old former New York City police officer from Suffolk, Va., and a bluecoat with the Seventh New York Volunteer Cavalry. The group’s roots include a pitched battle against Confederates in the trenches near Suffolk in 1864.

Mr. Lord said of the shot, “It missed the main artery by centimeters, in which case I could have bled out.” He faulted the Isle of Wight County’s sheriff’s office for what he called blunders in the investigation.

The suspect, Josh O. Silva, 29, of Norfolk, Va., was armed and in costume as an unofficial walk-on in the re-enactment. He was identified with the help of movie footage that captured the gunfire and narrowed the possible suspects but did not pinpoint the gunman, said C. W. Phelps, the county sheriff.

Mr. Silva was indicted on Monday on the charge of “reckless handling of a firearm,” said Wayne Farmer, the county attorney. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“No one is alleging ill will or that anyone acted intentionally,” said Mr. Farmer, speaking from his home on Friday because Virginia offices were closed for Lee-Jackson Day, marking the birthdays this month of the Confederate heroes Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and now celebrated on the Friday before Martin Luther King’s Birthday.

“If I had any idea that Mr. Silva had fired intentionally at another person, it would be a much more serious charge,” Mr. Farmer said.

Asked why Mr. Silva had not turned himself in after the shooting, Sheriff Phelps said: “He wasn’t sure he did it. He didn’t know he’d shot anyone.” He attributed delays in the investigation to recent turnovers in the county attorney’s office.

Mr. Farmer said that Mr. Silva was not a member of an organized re-enactment group but showed up in Confederate grays and joined the event, evidently unaware of rules strictly forbidding loaded weapons. He said Mr. Silva did not appear to have a criminal record and was expected to surrender on Tuesday.

Mr. Silva would not open the door to his home in Norfolk’s Willoughby Spit neighborhood on Friday, and said only, “We don’t want any.”

The shooting occurred shortly after noon on Sept. 27, 2008, as a movie crew from a company called Alderworks was filming the re-enactment of a trench battle in Heritage Park in Suffolk for a documentary.

Mr. Silva drew attention by brandishing a large unsheathed Bowie knife, Mr. Lord said. Union cavalry troops had just taken the earthworks from a group of rebel fighters when, Mr. Lord recalled, “I was hit in the right shoulder with a sharp blow — it felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat.”

The lead ball, a reproduction fired from an authentic period pistol, punctured his scapula and ended up sticking out from the front of his shoulder. The angle of the shot, Mr. Lord said, suggested it came from someone below in the enemy ditch.

He said the area was not immediately secured as a crime scene, allowing suspects and witnesses to leave. Investigators spent weeks searching for a hunter who was presumed to have fired the shot, Mr. Lord said. He added that the authorities obtained the projectile only because he preserved it in a vial and turned it over.

Still, Mr. Lord said he was looking forward to his unit’s next re-enactment, in March at Endview Plantation in Newport News, Va., marking the Battle of Williamsburg. “I’ll be there,” he said.

Lisa A. Bacon contributed reporting from Virginia.

As Bugs Bunny would say, “what a maroon.” I certainly hope this idiot does some time.

Scridb filter


  1. dan
    Mon 19th Jan 2009 at 7:02 pm

    If this person carried a loaded weapon to a reenactment and fired the weapon at someone (which he did) then he obviously had intent to harm or kill.

    So, he should be prosecuted for assault/attempted murder and being a moron should be added to the charges.

    Now, “being a moron” is not currently actionable. I suppose if it were the courts would be entirely overburdened with moron cases.

    This part is amazing, “Asked why Mr. Silva had not turned himself in after the shooting, Sheriff Phelps said: ‘He wasn’t sure he did it. He didn’t know he’d shot anyone.’” Let’s see loaded weapon, shooting of loaded weapon, yankee reenactor seriously wounded by bullet from loaded weapon. Seems an easy connection to make. But, this fellow didn’t “know that he’d shot someone”.

    So, in this case, I’d think assault and being a moron would be reasonable charges. In addition, this person should also be made to clean up all the graffiti vandalism at Gettysburg!

  2. Todd Berkoff
    Mon 19th Jan 2009 at 8:08 pm

    I loved the part about Mr. Silva not aware of the rule that forbids bringing loaded firearms to Civil War reenactments…he should be convicted of stupidity too.

  3. Wed 21st Jan 2009 at 10:45 am

    I agree with the “aggravated stupidity” charge entirely. However, I can certainly understand this man firing his pistol and wounding someone at a reenactment and not knowing it.

    I don’t know how big this event was but it’s not uncommon for me to fire my rifle and see someone fall across the way. We are reenacting a battle and soldiers “take hits” during battle. A similar thing happened at Gettysburg during the 145th reenactment.

    Now, who is to blame? Obviously the yahoo who brought the loaded weapon but also the First Sergeant and Company Commander of the group he fell in with. They should’ve inspected all the weapons in their command before anyone took the field. That’s common sense and a matter of policy in my unit and anyone who falls in with us. If the weapon is dirty or in anyway deemed unsafe by our Orderly or Captain, the soldier doesn’t take the field with us…end of discussion.

  4. Wed 04th Mar 2009 at 12:13 pm

    The Isle of Wight Sheriff Office can only be compared to the commonly held opinion of a Southern Sheriff.
    It is a political office, professionalism is secondary!
    When the chief investigator is a relative, this speaks for its self!!!!

  5. Wed 04th Mar 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for writing, Mr. Lord. I’m just glad you’re okay.


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