Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives and deputies investigated a shooting late the night of July 5 that resulted in a trauma alert for a 21-year-old Carter Reding Goodman, of Ocean Oaks Lane in Palm Coast. Goodman, a former wrestler at Matanzas High School, is in the Marine Corps.
None of the stories Goodman or two other people involved in the incident told deputies matched with evidence. “Nobody really wants to cooperate and tell the truth,” a Flagler County Sheriff’s spokesperson said today. “I’m not sure why they would not cooperate.” Investigators are concluding that the shooting was an accident. No charges are expected.
A friend of Goodman’s had driven him to the hospital. A bullet had pierced his lower abdomen and traveled through his scrotum. He was stretched out on the front passenger seat. “My friend’s been shot,” an occupant of the vehicle told attendants at the hospital.
As Goodman was getting prepped for transport to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach, a deputy spoke with the two individuals who’d driven him to AdventHealth–Antonio C. Mendez, 22, and Jillian J. Bontempo, 21, both of Palm Coast. Both said they were at an unknown residence in the area of the Hammock Beach Resort, watching the fireworks and consuming alcohol. (Hammock Beach Resort had a 9 p.m. “Grand Fireworks Display” that evening. It was after 11 p.m. when deputies spoke with those involved.) Both told the deputy they were on one side of Goodman’s car with some friends while Goodman was on the other side, talking with friends of his that they weren’t familiar with, according to a sheriff’s incident report.
They said they then heard a loud “pop” sound, and Goodman saying something about getting shot and needing to be taken to the hospital. Mendez drove and told Bontempo to call 911, though sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the hospital only after getting a call from the hospital’s emergency room, according to a spokesperson. They didn’t wait for an ambulance because Mendez said he didn’t know how serious the injury was.
“When I inquired as to if Jillian or Antonio saw or knew whom Carter was conversing with prior to the incident, they both informed me that they did not,” the deputy reported. “Furthermore, Jillian and Antonio advised that they did not witness this incident either. Jillian stated that she saw what happened and then jumped in the car. When I asked her to clarify, Jillian was unable to give me any details.”
Sheriff’s Sgt. Joseph Barile, who got to AdventHealth at 11:37 p.m., spoke with Goodman directly, and got an entirely different story.
As he was being treated, Goodman told Barile that he was at a bar at the Ocean Hammock resort “attending the fireworks display,” according to Barile’s report. He had been carrying his Glock handgun in a concealed manner, “holstered near his groin area while he was at the bar and consuming alcohol,” the report states. He had a valid concealed carry permit. Goodman said “at some point an unknown person touched the area where his firearm was and accidentally touched the trigger causing it to fire a round.” When Barile asked Goodman what kind of holster he was using that could make it possible for the trigger to be touched, Goodman couldn’t answer. He gave consent to have his vehicle, a 2019 Toyota 4Runner with North Carolina tags (Goodman is assigned to Camp Lejeune, the Marine base on North Carolina’s coast).
“Carter continuously advised that the person that touched him did not know he was carrying a firearm and it was an accident,” Barile reported. “He advised that the incident
did not occur in the bar but in the parking area on 16th Road at the beach approach.”
A deputy working a security detail at the fireworks event reported that no one had reported a gunshot or anyone being shot. The parking lot was checked for shell casings or blood. Neither was found.
Barile then examined the Toyota. He observed blood on the driver’s seat and “what appeared to be a bullet hole in the driver’s seat, a plastic holster on the driver’s side floorboard, and the firearm on the passenger side floorboard,” Barile’s report states. “It appeared that the incident occurred inside the vehicle and not as [Goodman] described it.” Detectives from the sheriff’s investigative division then reported to the scene.
The investigation has not closed.