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Police: Fla. man kills fiancee on eve of wedding

October 10th, 2009 . by TexasFred

Police: Fla. man kills fiancee on eve of wedding

WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) - A man who thought there was an intruder in his house shot and killed his fiancee the day before they were to be married, police said Friday.”Right now everything points to a tragic accident,”

Police Chief Kevin Brunelle told The Associated Press, adding investigators were awaiting forensic results.

John Tabutt, 62, told investigators he got his gun when he thought he heard an intruder, then fired at a figure in the hallway, according to Brunelle. It was Tabutt’s live-in fiancee, 62-year-old Nancy Dinsmore, who family members say he was going to marry Saturday. Tabutt told authorities he thought she was next to him in bed the whole time.

A message left for a phone number listed for the house was not returned.

Brunelle said no charges have been filed against Tabutt, adding the information he provided has been verified and he appeared “very distraught.”

Full Story Here:
Police: Fla. man kills fiancee on eve of wedding

You know, I’m pretty sure he is distraught, he should be. John Tabutt broke the cardinal rule of gun safety. He DID NOT identify his target. And he took an innocent life.

John Tabutt fired at a figure in the hallway.

ALL of the below are rules you should LIVE by if you are going to be a responsible gun owner.


There are no exceptions. Do not pretend that this is true. Some people and organizations take this rule and weaken it; e.g. “Treat all guns as if they were loaded.” Unfortunately, the “as if” compromises the directness of the statement by implying that they are unloaded, but we will treat them as though they are loaded. No good! Safety rules must be worded forcefully so that they are never treated lightly or reduced to partial compliance.

All guns are always loaded - period!

This must be your mind-set. If someone hands you a firearm and says, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded,” you do not dare believe him. You need not be impolite, but check it yourself. Remember, there are no accidents, only negligent acts. Check it. Do not let yourself fall prey to a situation where you might feel compelled to squeal, “I didn’t know it was loaded!”


Conspicuously and continuously violated, especially with pistols, Rule II applies whether you are involved in range practice, daily carry, or examination. If the weapon is assembled and in someone’s hands, it is capable of being discharged. A firearm holstered properly, lying on a table, or placed in a scabbard is of no danger to anyone.

Only when handled is there a need for concern. This rule applies to fighting as well as to daily handling. If you are not willing to take a human life, do not cover a person with the muzzle. This rule also applies to your own person. Do not allow the muzzle to cover your extremities, e.g. using both hands to reholster the pistol. This practice is unsound, both procedurally and tactically. You may need a free hand for something important. Proper holster design should provide for one-handed holstering, so avoid holsters which collapse after withdrawing the pistol. (Note: It is dangerous to push the muzzle against the inside edge of the holster nearest the body to “open” it since this results in your pointing the pistol at your midsection.) Dry-practice in the home is a worthwhile habit and it will result in more deeply programmed reflexes. Most of the reflexes involved in the Modern Technique do not require that a shot be fired. Particular procedures for dry-firing in the home will be covered later. Let it suffice for now that you do not dry-fire using a “target” that you wish not to see destroyed. (Recall RULE I as well.)


Rule III is violated most anytime the uneducated person handles a firearm. Whether on TV, in the theaters, or at the range, people seem fascinated with having their finger on the trigger. Never stand or walk around with your finger on the trigger. It is unprofessional, dangerous, and, perhaps most damaging to the psyche, it is klutzy looking. Never fire a shot unless the sights are superimposed on the target and you have made a conscious decision to fire. Firing an unaligned pistol in a fight gains nothing. If you believe that the defensive pistol is only an intimidation tool - not something to be used - carry blanks, or better yet, reevaluate having one around. If you are going to launch a projectile, it had best be directed purposely. Danger abounds if you allow your finger to dawdle inside the trigger guard. As soon as the sights leave the target, the trigger-finger leaves the trigger and straightens alongside the frame. Since the hand normally prefers to work as a unit - as in grasping - separating the function of the trigger-finger from the rest of the hand takes effort. The five-finger grasp is a deeply programmed reflex. Under sufficient stress, and with the finger already placed on the trigger, an unexpected movement, misstep or surprise could result in a negligent discharge. Speed cannot be gained from such a premature placement of the trigger-finger. Bringing the sights to bear on the target, whether from the holster or the Guard Position, takes more time than that required for moving the trigger finger an inch or so to the trigger.


Know what it is, what is in line with it, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything you have not positively identified. Be aware of your surroundings, whether on the range or in a fight. Do not assume anything. Know what you are doing.

Jeff Cooper’s Rules of Gun Safety

Mr. Tabutt did not adhere to the extremely important rules of gun usage, and as such, casts a less than favorable light on ALL responsible gun owners for his actions.

His fiance, Nancy Dinsmore, died because of him not following the rules of gun safety.

I’m going to go with the explanation provided by Police Chief Kevin Brunelle and his calling this a ‘tragic accident’. Other than calling it sheer stupidity, what else can you call it?

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12 Responses to “Police: Fla. man kills fiancee on eve of wedding”

  1. comment number 1 by: Robert

    Fred said ” A firearm holstered properly, lying on a table, or placed in a scabbard is of no danger to anyone.” TRUE!

    Unless you are Mayor of Hurst, then said gun could be “illegal” and should be confiscated post haste…

    This is a tragedy, and I still get shudders when I think back to the time I came home early and the wife met me in the hallway waving my 9mm all over the place like a High pressure water hose….I learned a couple of things that night.
    1. Call first
    2. Get her a shotgun because if I was a in intruder she would have shot the dog.

    I’m trying to catch up on the Mayor v Witzell saga and so far Fred IMO; you are the high ground…-HUGE KUDOS for your writing skills, citation, and most impressive your arguments being without emotional outbursts…WELL DONE!

  2. comment number 2 by: Silver Fox

    A sad story with no good outcome. Something that man will take with him to the grave, but as you say make sure of your target. Only had that happen once as a young boy in rural Mississippi while rabbit hunting one night(yes head-lighting) thought it was a possum, but turned out to be a skunk. Never smelled a thing killed the little critter before he could pull the trigger. Carried home and skinned and saved the pelt. More seriously, I’ve had cases when deer hunting where the gun was up and ready (with safety on) only to be lowered when an unsuspecting hunter emerged from the undergrowth. Always make sure of the target and as you point out make sure every gun is unloaded when storing and always, always assume every gun is loaded. Don’t hunt the big boys any more, do some squirrel hunting with my old 22 and some times take my 177cal pellet rifle when I’m really in a sporting mood and no to concerned with fried squirrel for lunch. Even with the air rifle all safety rules apply.

  3. comment number 3 by: HoosierArmyMom

    This is tragic and beyond my comprehension. I can’t imagine the guilt this man will live with for the rest of his days.

    When my father was 16, he was injured in a gas station (shot point blank in the leg with an improperly monitored shot gun under the counter) and it changed his life in many ways. There had been burglaries of small businesses in his small town, and while he was waiting for the gas station owner to close, standing at the counter drinking a cola and shooting the breeze, the owner heard noises out back, reached down to get his shot gun under the counter and unknown to him, someone had pulled the hammer back during the day, so in his excitement the hammer hit the shelf and fired into my Dad’s leg point blank. Dad survived, but it had devastating effects throughout his life, which I won’t go into here. My point being, one does not have to be killed to have their life changed by an act of careless weapon handling. And it does put a negative impact on all responsible gun owners.

    Every time an incident like this happens, those who would destroy the freedoms so many have died to preserve for us, wet their chops and go on the attack. It is disheartening to think about this tragedy and the effects on the families involved, but it also gives me sadness for what it does to our freedoms as well.

  4. comment number 4 by: extex_cop

    Yep…Gun Rules of Safety are a must. A friend of mine almost shot his son one night. The crazy kid had left the house late one night, then returned home only to find all the doors locked and no key with him. He went around the house trying windows to see if one was open. His rattling of windows woke his dad…who grabbed the shotgun. He said he saw a dark shadow of a man climbing in through the window… and almost shot his son…if not for the wife who turned on the kitchen light…at which time they noticed it was their son.

    It scared my friend so bad he was still shaking a week later when he talked about it. Know your target and know when and how to shoot….all those may save your life one day…or the life of a friend or family member. I taught all my kids when they were young….we always had loaded guns in the house…not once was anybody ever hurt. The only gun accident I had was with a ‘Nail Gun’ …darn nail hit a hard knot and it curved back around and into my hand were I was holding the board

  5. comment number 5 by: BobF

    One of the main reasons I got a 3-watt LED tactical light for my bedroom gun.

  6. comment number 6 by: Vigilante

    Read a story about a fellow hunting squirrels with a shotgun last year who took a bead on a fox “squirrel” that was moving and playing around on the trunk of a tree like squirrel(s) usually do when there are two of them. First one side, then the other. When the hunter(A) finally made up his mind to shoot the next time that that little brown sucker showed himself it was too late for the “hunter”(B) that was setting on the other side of the tree drinking a cup of coffee while he was searching the tree tops for a squirrel. Hunter(A) in his haste to shoot almost blew Hunter(B’s)elbow off. It was determined that hunter (B) was wearing a tan hunting coat and setting on the opposite side of a gray beech tree from hunter A. When hunter B would raise his arm(s) to take a drink of hot coffee from his thermos,
    his elbow(s) would show from either side of the tree. BANG!!
    Another reason to “identify” your target before you pull that trigger.

  7. comment number 7 by: cmblake6

    Those are the rules I always taught. The AF was using the NRA 10, and several of those just didn’t fit with the military needs. The Col. on the other hand simplified it perfectly.

  8. comment number 8 by: Silver Fox

    Quite a story vigilante, I once took a bead on what I thought to be a large bushy tailed fox squirrel high up in a tree with my trusty H.C. Higgins 22cal and much to my surprise when the critter fell I heard an unusually loud thump and discovered I had shot a small fox(not fox squirrel)-they do climb trees when pursuded. I suppose that was another time I didn’t identify the target. On a similar note: When I was a teenager we would often have an old man and his friend who would come to visit my grandfather. One man was blind as a result of a turkey hunting accident and the man who always came with him was the one who shot him in the face some years before. They had been hunting together and the one who was shot decided, foolishly, to fool his friend by shaking a bush. The result was tragic for both-for both were in error. The only good thing is that they remained , until their dying days friends and constant companions. Hadn’t thought about this for many years-it still brings tears.

  9. comment number 9 by: Mr Pink Eyes

    While this is a “tragic accident” and something that Tabutt will have to live with the rest of his life this should have been avoided. As you pointed out he did not follow simple gun safety rules. He fired at a target without knowing what that target was. This is the same as a hunter hearing a noise in a bush and firing only to find out that he just shot a fellow hunter. People like this just help to fuel the anti-gun crowd and giver responsible gun owners a bad name.

  10. comment number 10 by: ASM826

    I would be willing to call it tragically negligent. He thought he had an intruder, the adrenalin was running, and he pulled the trigger without verifying the nature of the target.

    At the very least this is manslaughter.

    As an aside, i feel the same way about automobile accidents. They do occur. But they are rare. Driving on a mountain road, and a big rock rolls down right in front of you. That’s an accident.

    Riding along, talking on a cell phone, changing a CD, drinking a soda, and roll through a stop sign hitting another vehicle, that’s not an accident, that’s negligence.

  11. comment number 11 by: Trencher

    Lapse in judgement or just plan stupid it’s a shame they don’t have a test for stupid. You know to go along with background checks or something that could be initiated at the point of getting your drivers license. The red flag of stupid goes up and poof no drivers license and no chance of ever possessing a handgun. It would keep incidents like this from happening. At least most of the time. It would damn sure make my commute to work about 80% more tolerable. :)

  12. comment number 12 by: Tish

    That story is truly sad to say the least. I read your rules for owning/operating a gun. I must admit guns scare me, and really because I’ve never been around them nor shot one. I know I need to get over this fear and take some training for my license (my friend just received his).

    Owning a gun is like having a child, I need to be totally prepared for the responsibility, and until them I’ll stay far away from them.

    Once I’m ready I’ll study up and expose myself to those that own and operate them safely.

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