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By Archie Ingersoll, Forum Communications Co., Published January 13 2010

Dispatch director shoots himself in thigh

GRAND FORKS – The director of the metro-area Red River Regional Dispatch Center in Fargo shot himself in the thigh while cleaning a pistol on Sunday.

Byron Sieber, 56, was treated and released from Altru Hospital in Grand Forks for a wound that grazed the top of his left thigh near his knee, said Grand Forks police Lt. Grant Schiller.

Before he was tapped to head up the dispatch center in January 2009, Sieber was on the police force in Grand Forks for 31 years. He still owns his house in Grand Forks. That’s where the shooting occurred.

Sieber said Tuesday that he’s not seriously injured and is back at work.

“I’m fine, other than my pride is hurt a little bit,” he said. The wound was minor enough that he didn’t notice it at first, Sieber said.

Schiller said the bullet did not hit an artery or a bone, exiting Sieber’s leg and ricocheting around a room. Schiller said Sieber had just been at the Police Department’s shooting range, qualifying for a conceal-and-carry permit.

Sieber was trying to remove the slide of a .40-caliber Glock pistol – the same sort of firearm Grand Forks officers carry – so he could clean the gun shortly after 6 p.m., Schiller said.

To properly release the slide, the ammunition clip should be removed, the chamber emptied and the trigger pulled, Schiller said. Sieber pulled the trigger to remove the slide, but in doing so, he fired a round left in the chamber.

“In order to take this thing apart, you have to dry-fire an empty round,” Schiller said of Sieber’s Glock pistol, a gun carried by Grand Forks officers.

Sieber was cleaning two guns at once, he said, and simply forgot the crucial step of emptying the second gun’s chamber.

He said his negligence is a reminder that guns must always be handled with care.

Forum reporter Dave Roepke contributed to this report

Archie Ingersoll is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned

by Forum Communications Co.