Off-duty PSU officer fired his gun while cleaning it, police say. Why he’s facing charges

A former Penn State police officer was charged Tuesday following an investigation into the unintentional discharge of a firearm inside a Patton Township apartment.

Ryan Byrnes, 26, of State College, was placed on leave in September after he unintentionally discharged his Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II AR-15 while off-duty. No one was injured, though an apartment across the hallway was damaged.

The woman inside the apartment told Patton Township police she heard a loud bang while studying in her living room and later noticed a hole in her front door, a gouge mark in a metal bookcase frame and multiple holes in the wall, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by police.

When met by police at the apartment, 520 Toftrees Ave., Byrnes said he was cleaning his gun and accidentally fired a round, police wrote.

The bullet went through Byrnes’ door, the woman’s door and fragmented when it hit the metal bookcase frame. Byrnes said he noticed the damage, but did not check on the woman, police wrote. He did not report the incident to police.

He is no longer employed at Penn State, university police public information officer Jenn Cruden said in a statement Tuesday. Further details about his departure could not be provided because it is a personnel matter, she said.

“The Sept. 14 incident happened while he was off-duty and off-campus and did not involve university equipment,” Cruden wrote. “The matter is being handled by the Patton Township Police Department and the Centre County district attorney’s office.”

Byrnes was charged with one misdemeanor count of recklessly endangering another person. An attorney for Byrnes was not listed on a court document.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.