Man dies testing bullet proof vest

On Monday, February 11, 2019, emergency personnel responded to the area of the Gila River, north of the Reay Lane Bridge in Central regarding a man with a gunshot wound. The call came in at approximately 6:00 p.m.

Members of the Pima and Thatcher police departments, Department of Public Safety, Lifeline and the Graham County Sheriff’s office responded to the call.

First responders found the victim on the west side of Reay Lane, north of the bridge. The victim was later identified as 25-year-old Parker Ray Lynch of Thatcher. Lynch had received a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He was semi-conscious when members of the Pima Police Department – who are medically trained – began providing first aid.

According to a press release from the Graham County Sheriff’s Department, Parker and two other male acquaintances had been in a tree lined area shooting a .223 single shot rifle at a ballistic vest which reportedly belonged to Parker.

At one point Lynch apparently put on the vest and with a ballistic plate in place and had one of the men, identified as Steven R. Watson, shoot the vest and plate while being worn. The single round penetrated the plate and vest, striking Lynch.

Lynch was transported by LifeLine to Mount Graham Regional Medical Center where a trauma surgical team began emergency surgery. Lynch was pronounced deceased during the surgery.

Today, family members of Parker Lynch were located and notified on his death. An autopsy was also conducted today by Pima County.

The .223 rifle, vest, plate and other evidence were recovered at the scene. Steve Watson and the other male were interviewed by Graham County Personnel. Evidence indicated that Steven Watson was the one who shot the weapon at the time the round struck Parker Lynch.

Based on the circumstances, Steve Watson was arrested and booked into the Graham County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center for the charge of Manslaughter.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing.