What to Know
- Cory Lei Ray, 25, of Bristol Township, received a year of probation for accidentally killing his best friend, Jacob Pfeifer-Johnson.
- Ray was trying to unload his handgun inside his home back on Jan. 16 but accidentally fired the weapon, striking Pfeifer-Johnson.
- Officials say Ray cooperated during the investigation and showed genuine remorse.
A Bucks County man received one year of probation after accidentally shooting and killing his childhood friend inside his home.
Cory Lei Ray, 25, pleaded no contest on Monday to involuntary manslaughter in connection to the fatal shooting of his friend, 24-year-old Jacob Pfeifer-Johnson of Philadelphia.
“A no-contest plea, entered in this case as part of a negotiated resolution, does not constitute an admission of guilt by a defendant, but rather an acknowledgment that evidence in the case was sufficient to support a conviction,” a spokesperson for the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office wrote.
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The two men were inside the kitchen of Ray’s home in Bristol Township back on January 16. As they discussed items they had just bought, Ray removed an H&K P2000 9mm handgun from its holster and tried to unload it.
Ray told investigators he forgot to take out the loaded magazine from the gun before racking the slide to clear the weapon, causing another live round to enter the chamber.
Ray said he tried to de-cock the gun’s external hammer by holding it with his thumb while gently pulling the trigger but his thumb slipped, causing it to strike the firing pin. The gun then fired a live round, striking Pfeifer-Johnson in the chest as he stood six to eight feet away from Ray. Pfeifer-Johnson died from his injuries about 15 hours later.
During his court appearance Monday, Ray told the judge he and Pfeifer-Johnson had been friends since they were in the first grade and that he remains friends with many of his family members. He also said he tried to render aid to Pfeifer-Johnson after the shooting.
“I thought of him more as a brother than just a best friend,” Ray said.
Ray had a valid concealed carry permit and no prior criminal history at the time of the shooting. He was sentenced to a year of probation and he must make restitution of $5,133.31 to the Pennsylvania Crime Victims’ Compensation Assistance Fund. He also won’t be allowed to own or possess a firearm in the future.
“Mr. Pfeifer-Johnson’s death was a tragedy that would have been avoided if not for the series of errors Mr. Ray made while attempting to unload his handgun and make it safe,” Deputy District Attorney David A. Keightly Jr. said. “However, given the extensive cooperation and genuine remorse displayed by Mr. Ray, as well as the wishes of the victim’s family, we felt that this was an appropriate sentence.”