View Full Version : You will NOT believe this but it happens again... Shooting

11-02-2009, 12:34 PM
This time in St. Louis my hometown, one of the local haunted houses here that really builds themselves up as the scariest in town, the best, blah, blah, shot one of their customers on Halloween with a 45 caliber gun loaded with blanks and injured a customer and a co-worker.

The custmer had to go to the hospital. Today I read the sherrif office will probably file charges against the people who fired the gun, and I'm sure without a doubt the haunted house will be sued for un-real amounts of money.

A few weeks ago I talked about how 90% of haunted houses suck are not good... and again I meant those new haunts that open, now this haunt is not new they opened last year, and I think three years prior to that under different names, but again in my opinion all fly by night. They have access to the net, they could have joined HHA, or looked at the hundreds of websites that offer information but they didn't or didn't listen to any of it. Bottom line this haunt falls into my group of 90% of new haunts because they are still what I consider fly by night.

This haunt has changed locations and its name several times, they buy lots of ads, but they don't offer a good haunted house at least not in my opinion and well now we learn they are not even safe.

Who in their RIGHT MIND would do this... oh yeah I remember another fly by night opened a few years ago and shoot a customer and killed them with a loaded gun thinking that would be scary. YEAH IT WAS SCARY!

When you see things like this or read these things, you KNOW it is our responsibility to make things like HHA important to our industry. This person at this haunt could have died this could have been bigger news, and whether we like it or not we get LUMPED IN WITH IDIOTS LIKE haunts who shoot guns at people, or run an unsafe haunt, or say they are the best in the world but offer nothing.

Me personally I'm tired of these fly by night haunts who give the rest of us a bad name, or ruin all the hard work we've built up with television shows, national PR, good will with customers nationwide.

Anyway we have to do more to help these people avoid shooting their customers with guns, doing dangerous things, or to realize the risks involved in opening a haunt so they won't do it. At this point I wonder if this haunt has insurance maybe they do maybe they don't I don't know but they are going to need it for sure... and sadly this could have been avoided!

ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD USE A GUN TO TRY TO SCARE PEOPLE... oh well another example of why we need to work together to educate people hopefully through HHA.



11-02-2009, 02:54 PM
Larry I agree with you, and doing something like having a gun, even loaded with blanks, is just insane. That's about as insane as having a real chainsaw with a real blade and instructing actors to just stay away from the guests. I wonder if anyone's ever done that before. I get where you're coming from, it is frustrating to be lumped in with these people. I get irritated when people think all haunts are just black walls with strobe lights and actors running around in cheap masks. The true haunts these days are more like theme parks that are only open for a month. And I'm not just talking about the big budget haunts, there are plenty of smaller haunts or home haunts that take pride in their work and strive for a safe and quality attraction.

The problem though is that these other people simply don't care. Why would they join HHA, or any other association if they just want to have some fun and make some money? These aren't people that go to the tradeshows, pride themselves on their work, and have discussions with their industry peers. I've seen this a lot when I've been working on concerts. There are a lot of promoters who only care about the dollar signs. They don't care about having a quality show or safety. I've had to actually tell off promoters who were too busy to even show up for their own show, or those who insisted on unsafe things like padlocking the emergency exits. I imagine the haunt industry has the same problems. But unfortunetly at the end of the day, there are those who care and those who don't. I guess the one thing you can take comfort in is those people won't be in business for too long. But still, they do give everyone a bad name.

11-02-2009, 07:34 PM
I think the real issue here is for the customer/worker to make a speedy/healthy recovery. Don't take an accident and spin it for your own agenda! It does sound like rational judgement was used, but it is no reason for you bash them for not joining your 'haunted house club'. Right now the focus should be on the injured and being thankful neither one was seriously injured. Get off your high horse Larry!

11-02-2009, 07:45 PM
Maybe if they had been a member of an association someone could have let them know beforehand that pointing a gun at a customer and pulling the trigger was a very, very bad idea.

11-02-2009, 07:55 PM
I'm sorry to say but, at my haunt we shoot a 410 with blanks into the air. The haunted hayride across town from us used to fire a 12 gauge and a haunted trail down in Springville, NY used to shoot a 10 gauge.

freak 'n' stein
11-02-2009, 09:21 PM
The article posted doesn't sound NEARLY as bad as this post makes it out to be...just my opinion

...however, this article surely makes me accidentally hitting a customer over the head this past Saturday and having to issue a refund look VERY minuscule...hahaha!

11-02-2009, 10:47 PM
Couple of things...

One as far as the article not sounding bad WOW... that is amazing! Second to that there is another article that is much worse but I didn't post that link but I'll find it and post it. The other article says Lincoln County is considering filing criminal charges, and it talks about how two people got injured not one and how the gun was pointed right in the persons arm.

I could care less what anyone thinks using a handgun and pointing anywhere near a customer, or for that matter using a gun period is just plain stupid and it couldn't be worse idea to scare people. Again my opinion...

Robbo one or whatever your name is... its not about being on a HIGH horse, and its not about joining a haunt club. In case you are NOT aware go to www.hauntedhouseassociation.org (http://www.hauntedhouseassociation.org) and read the blog there is a list of safety suggestions and one is DO NOT USE GUNS in your haunted house. Even if they never joined who cares, how does anyone think this is a good idea or is safe?

Its not safe its DUMB!

Lastly, I don't think the point is join HHA or bash on someone the point is and the only point is ... ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF SOMEONE USING A FIREARM in a haunted house shooting someone and causing serious injury! A couple years ago someone was KILLED by the same exact situation and today I found out there might have been a second person shot by a gun at a haunt same situation.

All haunts even fly by nights who only care about money need advice especially when it comes to safety and this is just another example.


11-02-2009, 11:26 PM
Many years ago my grandfather killed his best friend while handing him what both thought was an unloaded gun.

Jim Warfield
11-02-2009, 11:50 PM
A handsome young actor on a hit TV show , killed by a blank that crushed his ribs, stopped his heart.
I think that was his name.
I think anyone stupid enough to use a real gun is also stupid enough not to take anyone 's advice, or at least this has seemed to be the pattern I have noticed in this life.

11-02-2009, 11:54 PM
This reminds me of an idea I had for an area of the haunt I worked at this year. They have an outside woods area so I was going to recommend for next year to dress up one of our older actors as Dick Cheney in his hunting gear with a shotgun walking around outside. That should get people running.

But on a serious note... I think anytime you mix real handguns and blanks with haunted houses, sometimes it's Murphy's Law waiting to happen. If you want to use guns as set pieces or props, then I would recommend going with replicas made from rigid foam or plastic. If you use real guns, even with blanks, it's a ticking time bomb of disaster waiting to happen. And when your doing your insurance policy for the season, as your agent what he thinks. After he/she is raising your rate sky-high or outright denying to insure your haunt, you may have your answer if it's a good idea.

11-03-2009, 04:29 AM
I won't claim to have enough knowledge of haunting to get fully into this discussion, but I don't think that absolutely not using something due to a few accidents by careless people is the answer. I think making absolutely certain that the person using ANY prop, be it a gun or otherwise, is competent with it's use and maintenance solves MANY issues.

My late grandfather was an ex-Marine, and an avid hunter who took my dad with him from the time he was a young boy. One of the things that I have always been taught in regards to guns is to NEVER point them at someone, even when you're sure it's unloaded. Firing a blank in the air? Perfectly safe. Firing safely in a stage show type situation? Fairly safe as well, so long as the training is there. Firing a blank AT someone, especially at close range? INCREDIBLY stupid. As would be firing that gun without cleaning it prior to it's use AND making sure the proper blanks were being used in it.

My personal opinion? In the right context, blank firing guns can add to the overall show, be it as part of an integrated stage show or in a position where it poses no real threat to the well being of guests, and when used safely and sanely. Should they be used willy nilly? ABSOLUTELY NOT, as that news story shows.

'If you can't do something safely, don't do it at all' is the short version of what I'm saying, I suppose.

11-03-2009, 06:08 AM
People don't think, that's the problem. And i'll say it again if you can't figure out how to scare someone without grabbing them ,pulling their hair, running a fake knife across their neck or body or the big one pointing any kind of fake, blank or real gun at a person GIVE UP you suck and no nothing about scaring people or haunted houses.

Robert Dudzieck
Fright Factory
Philadelphia PA

11-03-2009, 07:25 AM
Here is the link to the other story

Jim Warfield
11-03-2009, 08:18 PM
A few years ago when two young girl haunt customers were shot while on the hayrack at a haunt?
One killed, the other paralyzed.
The shooter might have been drunk, sitting by the campfire in a scene. His claims of "Didn't know" rang hollow when it was found to have been his gun.
So imagine yourself as the haunted attraction owner. You hire a guy to be in a scene, he seems OK, then that night he gets drunk and kills and maims two people.
Just an example of "Unpredictable" and "Not Thinking".

11-04-2009, 08:16 AM
I hope those injured heal well. I really wished people would stop and think about things like this. First rule of firearm safety don't point a gun at anyone!!! Contray to popular thought blanks are dangerous they do use powder which can propel the wad of the blank or any debry that might have fallen into the barrel at someone with deadly force. If you ever watch the videos of how movies were made almost all professional stunt coordinators treat guns even with blanks like they had live rounds in them. stunt people now days are usually wearing more protection under their costumes just to be on the safe side especially after the Brandon Lee incident in the crow filming. things like this incident make the haunt industry and gun owners look bad :(

11-04-2009, 08:23 AM
I don't support the idea of having any sort of group that regulates us and forces us to join. We already have that within our individual cities.

That being said I don't think Larry was trying to push that. I believe his point was someone did something stupid, someone got hurt as a result of it, and that the nature of the event is something that could reflect VERY poorly on all of us, and the haunt involved was possibly a haunt that doesn't educate itself and actually THINK before it does something stupid. Correct me if I am wrong Larry but that was your point, correct?

That all being said it is my personal belief that guns should never be used in haunts, even those ones that just shoot air. I own guns, I love guns, and I support the right to have guns so that isn't why I feel they shouldn't be involved. It is just the fact you never know if the gun is real or if the gun is something a disgruntled actor snuck in and might actually shoot you for real, or if someone off the street snuck in the haunts back door and is actually robbing you or what.

The sad truth is I know people that love to haunt but still have the dumbest, most unsafe ideas but don't want to compromise their artistic integrity even at the cost of saftey. I agree it is a problem that needs to be dealt with but I still can't get behind being forced to join an association that attempts to regulate us further.

11-04-2009, 08:28 AM
Real guns in an indoor haunt are a BAD idea, period. That's my opinion and it's very unlikely to change. We need some vendors to produce high quality fake guns at reasonable prices, however. We needed a fake shotgun for our suicide scene and a solid rubber one ended up costing me substantially more than a real one.

11-04-2009, 12:55 PM
Real guns in an indoor haunt are a BAD idea, period. That's my opinion and it's very unlikely to change. We need some vendors to produce high quality fake guns at reasonable prices, however. We needed a fake shotgun for our suicide scene and a solid rubber one ended up costing me substantially more than a real one.

Now there's an idea. I know that there are some companies that make them for other industries but they are pretty expensive - like you said, almost as much as a real gun.

11-04-2009, 12:56 PM
I do think a vendor should develope a fake gun that fires air blasts or something I think it would be cool...however I personally wouldn't buy one for an indoor haunt because pulling a gun on people might just cause a panic or something. Today you have people who can carried weapons on them and who knows if they pull it because some actor of yours pulls what looks like a real gun on them. I don't know... I think on a hayride or something it might be kinda cool from really far away and it shoots like a water blast with high powered air but certainly not a real gun that can really hurt someone.


11-04-2009, 01:45 PM
I think using a gun in a haunted house is stupid and plays no part in a haunted house. Unless you want a gangster type real life type haunt, then posting that before one goes in would be smart. I agree, someone who is packing and sees your gun thinking your going to do something regardless of blanks will shoot you thinking otherwise. I thank god we had a metal detector this year at our haunt. Everyone had to go through it before coming in. Was a real piece of mind for us actors. Air guns that we have used do not look like the real thing, were you cock it everything, so that is different in my mind. What is next throwing knifes at people and hope we miss??

11-04-2009, 02:48 PM
I agree, there should be a vendor developed product that SIMULATES a gunshot. picture triggering an animatronic maniacle hick that cocks his 12 guage and perfectly synched with his pulling the trigger theres an air cannon blast and super-bright LED lights out the barrel of the gun... it would be amazing and i would totally use it in my haunt designs.

point of the thread being that using a real firearm loaded with actual explosives (with or without a projectile) is still idiotic. It would be just as idiotic to cut the showmanship corners by using an actual automobile to drive through your haunt wall at people rather than the multiple simulation options available for the same effect.

Didn't the haunted hoochie have a shotgun suicide SIMULATION scene either last year or the year before? granted, not in the best taste IMO, but a good example of how haunts COULD use the CONCEPT of a firearm in their haunt, in a completely controlled and safe manner.

no one should ever use a gun in their haunt, ever. now a piece of plastic or rigid foam that looks like a gun, thats a completely different story (if done right with the appropriate safety measures in place)

Jim Warfield
11-05-2009, 05:23 AM
Of guns and grew up watching lame TV shows where guns go "Bang!" and bullets only hit the bad guy and everyone else lives happilly ever after, saved by a gun...bullets only kill quickly and quietly, no muss, no fuss..beter start getting "Real".
Bodies ripped apart-forever, irreversable damage, crippled, maimed forever, much pain and suffering..all from a split-second act.
For those who all ready realise these things, pretending to aim or shoot them with a phoney gun might be way too much for them to ever forgive you for.
How many customers can you afford to perminently scare away?
A very good patron of mine was perminently scared away by one employee I had who took it upon himself to point a realistic plastic gun at her head from 2foot away and say "BANG!" real loudly!
She fell on the floor, on her butt. That was it for her.
I feel such a scare crosses the line for many people. "People" spelled k-u-s-s-t-o-m-b-e-r-z.

Maybe a muzzle loader with a hillbilly swearing and struggling to get the gun loaded but never quite getting it done could be played for a laugh?
That might be fun.

11-06-2009, 02:35 PM
I experienced something similar this year. Went to a haunted house and they had a real gun with blanks that they fired in the air. I didn't find out until after I exited that the gun was, in fact, real. This made me uneasy.

I disagree with part of Robo's statement though. Having a real gun is not the same as having a real chainsaw. They are not equally as dangerous in my opinion. I was thinking about this very topic a week or so ago. Weapons safety is something ALL haunts need to address.

Do I have a problem with haunts using real weapons in haunts? Not really, as long as the proper safety measures are taken to ensure that things are done safely. Any metal blades should be ground down to ensure they can no longer cut and any sharp points that could pierce skin should be rounded off. In addition, the weapons should ONLY be given to actors who are responsible and understand how to use it safely, which is why I think any haunt that uses a weapon should train those actors in how to safely handle a weapon.

I'm against real guns in any fashion because, as this post shows, even a gun loaded with blanks can injure someone. Even if you're not pointing it at the guests, the sound inside of a small room is amplified and could possibly damage someone's hearing.

Now Larry, I will disagree with you that only 10% of haunts are good. Yes, there are some haunted houses out there whose only goal is to make money and they don't care about the quality of their show but I wouldn't go so far as to say 90% of them are that way. Not every haunt has the budget that some of the "great" haunts have. Some haunts have to make their own props, paint their own scenes and get by with what they know how to do. Just because a haunt is low budget doesn't make it bad. If a haunted house is able to entertain and scare guests, then in my opinion, it's a good one. The haunted house I worked for this year was low budget but that doesn't make it a bad haunt that sucked. In fact, we had a bunch of people coming out of the haunt telling us we were better than the big-production haunted house in the area. This other place spends tons of money on sets, animatronics, props and advertising, yet people were saying our small, low-budget place was better. I've also went to one of the haunts that's on one of the "nation's best" lists (I won't say which one) but I was incredibly let down with it and thought a competing haunt put on a much better show, even though they aren't on any list. So on that, I disagree with you.

To end this post, I would like to see videos, seminars or hell, even articles that are dedicated to weapons safety in a haunted house. Any actor using a weapon needs to have respect for the item in their hands as well as respect for the guests and their safety and maybe if this issue was addressed more strongly, like the way other safety issues have been addressed in the past, we'd have less incidents like this.

Just my two cents.

11-06-2009, 04:03 PM
He means 90% of new haunts, trust me.

11-09-2009, 05:22 PM

Idk a Pneumatic shotgun that shoots a blast of air would be safe and scare the crap out of guests... but is it in good taste?

Kind of irrelevant to the thread though

12-07-2009, 10:33 AM
I have spent a better part of ten years researching the haunted attraction industry. I'm interested in starting my own. I have disected every thing I can find on the aspects of running a professional, safe, high caliber (pardon the expression) haunt.
If you have a website, myspace page, facebook page, social network- I've been there.
This past year 2009- a haunt opened in my area. I was kind of dismayed because i really wanted to be the first in my area to get one open. The guy who opened it was telling folks he had spent a million dollars to open this haunt. It was a hayride, haunted trail, spooky campfire tales, and a corn maze. Then I thought: i should be happy for anyone who has succeeded in reaching their own goal of opening what is probably a dream of theirs also. I also thought that I should take advantage of this opening and volunteer to help- education- education- education.
I called the guy and he invited me to meet up and take a private tour and I jumped at the chance.
This was a very scary haunt- but not in a good way. This guy had obviously never researched anything when it came to haunts. His trail was outlined with rebar poles sticking 2 feet out of the ground with neon orange string tied between them. (perfect impaling height if you fell on one). He had open kettle pots in theground that shot flame up into the air. His actors with masks and costumes were wandering round these kettle pots. here's a conversation we had:
Him: see all those things sticking out of the ground that look like a mine field?
Me: Uh... yeah it does look like a mine field, what are they?
Him: Theyre kettle pots and their rigged to shoot flame three feet into the air- see I'm trying to make it look like a plane wreck and my actors are victims wandering around.
Me: not wandering around the kettle pots, right?
Him: Oh yeah they know where they are. We practiced it over an over in the daylight.
Me: yeah but its gonna be dark and they have masks on and when that flame shoots out they are gonna be flash blinded by it.
Him: no no no we practiced it they know where they are.

To make a long story not much longer- I found five ways for customers and actors to be maimed or hurt badly including accidental shooting. This guy actually was using a real shot gun that he had made homemade blanks for. He took the cartridges- emptied out the pellets and filled them with black powder. An actor would jump out of a cornfield, point the gun at a wagonload of people and fire. he was proud of the fact that the shotgun sounded real and fired a three foot ball of flame out of the barrel. I ended up contacting the local zoning officer who chastised for trying to shut some one down and telling me not to tell him how to do his job. I then contacted the state department of agriculture. Who did go and inspect- found they had no licenses- permits- insurance or inspections. Here's the kicker- they had been running advertisements in the paper- had a website- myspace page, facebook- three radio stations and no one of an official nature had bothered to check them out. They did stay open the entire season and as far as i know no one got hurt. Hopefully the inspections had them fix any dangers- i don't know. Plus mother nature poured rain on them almost every weekend and there season was cut down considerably. BTW- there is no way this guy spent a million- he may have spent 1000.
Anyway- this was a fly-by-night operation- and if he would have succeeded in killing someone or maiming someone it would have affected all of your business's and my future business. For those who are the vets of the industry I'm sure you can tell folks how your business has been changed because of fires- hangings- shootings- etc. How everytime something bad happens in one haunt or entertainment venue- business is hurt- new regulations are installed- new inspections new laws... <sigh>
I agree with Larry- any business that wants to be the best it can be should be part of an industry organization- club- etc. Not only to get the great advice that so many of you give but also to be a watchdog for these fly by nighters that will damage our reputation and business.
McZomburger now steps down from his soapbox.

The Forsaken Crypt
12-07-2009, 03:34 PM
Still, when you go to a Haunted Attraction you need to insure that everything you do is safe. I dont care if its a blank or a real gun, If it's a gun it wont be in any haunted attraction of mine. All they do is cause bigger saftey problems. There are so many other things you can do that can replace a gun... You shouldn't HAVE to scare people with a real threat like a gun. If you are a sucsessful haunt you can scare ANYONE with clever scare tactics. That is just my personal opinion

Jim Warfield
12-08-2009, 07:03 AM
In the hands of an idiot, whether it is your helper or a customer.
First rule as far as I'm concerned is to either have no real knives, axes or they must be very securely fastened down or to a solid wall.
A knife or an axe is Always "Loaded"....so is an ice pick.
A very squirrely customer once yanked a real ice pick out of a display head and thrust it quickly right at my face!
Only a premonition and my quickness saved me.
Ignoring that premonition or being alittle bit slow and tired that night would have personally cost me plenty.
The customer was a 6 ft. tall 12 year old boy going through a growth spurt and the hormones were affecting his brain in a quirky manner. He was extremely fidgitty. I think he might have been "hearing voices"?

I have built several cannons out of old steel pipe.
I weld a "wall" just an inch or two inside of the barrel so some idiot can't sneak in my yard and drop a stick of dynamite down the barrel creating schrapnel and possible death and destruction in my yard. (Not that this would be their actual "plan")
A few miles away from me a relative built a really accurate large model of a handgun for his mail box, it looked so beautiful..a month after there was a picture of it in the newspaper someone stuck dynamite in it and........yes Shi%&# happens!