If his truck had been parked in a different direction, if he hadn’t scanned the shooting range one more time, Canyon County resident Dale Fairbanks might not have noticed a 65-year-old Caldwell man bleeding on the ground, he said.
What happened Thursday afternoon at the George W. Nourse shooting range near Nampa remains an uncertain combination of good luck and horrible circumstances. It was lucky that Fairbanks noticed the man on the ground, oddly positioned with his hands splayed underneath his head. It was lucky that Fairbanks and two other men were at the scene with gauze and clean towels.
Investigators have not publicly identified the injured Caldwell man, and as of late Friday afternoon he remained in critical condition at a local hospital, Canyon County spokesperson Joe Decker said.
Detectives haven’t been able to talk to the man yet, so little is known about what happened, Decker said. Initial reports indicated that a firearm malfunction led to an accidental shooting.
Decker confirmed that Fairbanks was at the scene but didn’t see the moment the gun went off.
“I had my ear protection on so I hadn’t heard the shot,” Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks had driven the length of the shooting range, looking for a quiet space away from the other three shooters. He said he was about 40 yards away from the Caldwell man and 70 yards away from the other two men. When he saw the man down, he rushed to him.
“He was really gray, and there was a lot of blood,” Fairbanks said, and the man had a gunshot wound in his face and only weak signs of a pulse.
Fairbanks, who said he has a background in emergency response and law enforcement, called out to the other men.
“The people who were there didn’t hesitate three seconds to help,” he said. “They were on it.”
The three worked together to render first aid and reach 911, which was particularly difficult since the shooting range is in a spotty cell service area.
Fairbanks said the victim was responsive. When they asked him to answer questions by squeezing their hands, he did, Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks said he was worried for the man and his family. He said the man was wearing a wedding band.
Reporter Kristin Rodine contributed