David Calandro, 43, took his two sons pepper picking on a farm. Then, lost his life due to a faulty gun. Farmer Angelo Russo, 55, was recently sentenced to five years in jail with a minimum term of two-and-a-half years in the Victorian Supreme Court for the man’s death.
“David Calandro took his two young sons…on what was supposed to be a pleasant jaunt to pick peppers on a farm,” Justice Croucher said. “Regrettably, as a result of a series of ever-worsening decisions, first by Mr. Calandro and then by Mr. Russo, things turned very bad very quickly, and ultimately to utter tragedy.”
That day, Calandro’s vehicle had hit Russo’s dog, Harry, as he was chasing the moving car and he had badly injured the animal. He said it felt like they went over a speed bump and the dog appeared to be spasming when he looked in the rearview mirror. “[Mr. Calandro] shrugged it off…he continued to drive forward,” fellow farmer Vincent Vigliaturo said.
Vigliaturo told the court Russo called him later and yelled at him for Calandro running over the dog and not helping. “He said ‘Where’s that [explicit] Calandro? Tell him to come back and look at what he’s done to my [explicit] dog’,” Vigliaturo said.
Calandro returned to confess what he’d done. Russo had put Harry out of his misery using a shotgun and he was still holding the weapon as he approached Calandro’s vehicle. However, he claimed he tripped over an eggplant and hit the barrel of the gun on the driver’s window. The gun was faulty and fired after being bumped, fatally shooting Calandro in the head.
Counsel for Russo, Patrick Tehan, explained, “He thought the safety switch was on.”
Justice Croucher determined the farmer indeed had “anger in his heart but no violence in mind” when he approached Calandro. He added, “Before either man could say anything, Mr. Russo stumbled, possibly on an eggplant, causing the barrel of the gun to strike the driver’s side window.”
Calandro was shot the head right in front of his two sons in a “ghastly” scene, according to the judge. He said, “The boys screamed and got out of the car. They were crying and in shock” and added that Russo was a registered firearms owner but should not have been holding the loaded gun with others around, particularly in the emotional state he was in after having to put his dog down.
He added, however, the farmer had recently purchased the shotgun secondhand and did not realize it was faulty. He couldn’t have known it would discharge without the trigger being utilized.
“It might even be said that there’s a good deal of bad luck involved,” Justice Croucher said. “The gun would discharge upon being bumped. He did not pull the trigger.” And, the gun would have never discharged without the eggplant that made him stumble in the first place.
Russo had originally been put on trial for murder. However, considering the circumstances of the event, that charged was eventually dropped. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter.