GCSO

GRAHAM COUNTY - A Thatcher man died from a gunshot wound Monday evening after he reportedly had an acquaintance shoot at a ballistic vest he was wearing.

According to a news release from the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, an investigation determined that three men were shooting a .223 single shot rifle at the vest in a desert area north of the Reay Lane Bridge.

At one point the victim, identified in the news release as 25-year-old Parker Ray Lynch of Thatcher, reportedly put on the vest and, with a ballistic plate in place, had one of the others shoot at it. The shot reportedly penetrated the vest and plate.

Graham County Dispatch was notified at approximately 5:56 p.m. Monday, and first responders found Lynch with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Medically trained members of the Pima Police started giving him aid. Members of the Thatcher Police and Graham County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene.

Lynch was taken to Mount Graham Regional Medical Center by a LifeLine ambulance, and a trauma surgical team started emergency surgery. During the operation, Lynch was pronounced deceased. Family members were located and notified Tuesday.

The rifle, vest and plate were recovered at the scene. According to the news release, evidence indicated the shot that struck Lynch was fired by a subject named Steven R. Watson. Based on the circumstances, Watson was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on a manslaughter charge.

The news release added that aspects of the investigation continue.

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