A shooting over pizza delivery mix-up? Small mistakes keep proving to be dangerous in USA. (2024)

A teen pizza delivery driver who was shot at about seven times by a Tennessee homeowner earlier this week is the latest in a long string of victims whose only mistake was being at the wrong place.

The 18-year-old Domino's driver said he accidentally parked in the wrong driveway while delivering pizza next door, when he saw a man running at him and shooting, according to court documents. Ryan Babco*ck, 32, was charged with aggravated assault and said he thought someone was breaking into his truck.

The teen wasn't struck by the bullets, but in several other shootings across the country, people accidentally in the wrong place have been injured or killed when they were shot at.

Experts previously told USA TODAY that these kinds of wrong-place, wrong-time shootings aren't surprising in a society awash with guns.

This kind of shooting has plagued the country for decades, with a spate of them making national headlines last year. In April 2023, a Black teen who rang the wrong doorbell, a 20-year-old woman who was riding in a car that pulled into the wrong driveway, and a cheerleader who opened the wrong car door were all shot.

"People are constantly told to be scared and to use guns to defend themselves, so we shouldn’t be shocked when this happens," UCLA law professor Adam Winkler told USA TODAY last year.

Americans keep getting shot at over small mistakes

Earlier this week, the family of Ralph Yarl, the Black teen who was shot in the head and arm when he rang the wrong doorbell while picking up his sibling in Kansas City, Missouri, filed a lawsuit against the white homeowner who shot him. Yarl was 16 at the time and suffered a traumatic brain injury after being shot April 13, 2023, the suit says. Andrew Lester, 85, still faces first-degree assault and armed criminal action charges.

A shooting over pizza delivery mix-up? Small mistakes keep proving to be dangerous in USA. (1)

Yarl's shooting put a nationwide spotlight on so-called "stand your ground" laws, which deal with the use of deadly force in self-defense. It also sparked a conversation about racial bias in a country with so many guns and what gun control experts and advocates call a shoot-first mentality.

The situation has played out several times in the last few decades:

  • On April 15, 2023, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was riding in a car in rural upstate New York with three other people when the driver mistakenly turned onto the property of Kevin Monahan, who was 65 at the time. Monahan fired shots at the car, killing Gillis. Monahan was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison earlier this year.
  • Also in April 2023, two Texas cheerleaders were shot after practice when one of them mistakenly opened the wrong car door, thinking it was hers. Heather Roth told news outlets she got back into her friend's car, but the person who was in the other car got out and shot at them. Both were injured, and Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. was charged with deadly conduct.
  • In 2018,then 14-year-old Brennan Walker said he missed his school bus and got lost when he tried walking the route, so he knocked on a door to ask for directions. Instead of directions, he got a woman yelling at him and her husband, Jeffrey Zeigler,firing shots that missed him. The couple said they thought he was breaking in, but Walker and his family said they believed the shooting was racially motivated.
  • In 2013, 22-year-old Roger Diaz was killed after GPS took him and his friends to the wrong address while they were headed to a friend's house. GunmanPhillip Sailors wassentenced to a year of probationand a fine after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
  • The 1992 death of Yoshihiro Hattori, a 16-year-old Japanese exchange student, caused reverberations around the world. The teen, dressed in a white tuxedo, went to the wrong house while looking for the address of a Halloween party. Rodney Peairs said he thought Hattori's camera was a weapon and shot in self-defense. Peairs was found not guilty of manslaughter, the Washington Post reported in 1993.

Though self-defense laws seek to deter violent crime, researchers in a 2020 report found no evidence of lower rates of violent crime with these laws in place. In some cases, the broadening of "stand your ground" laws and "castle doctrine" laws — which remove a person's duty to first try to retreat before using deadly force against an intruder — were linked to increasing violent crime and racial bias.

Tennessee, where the pizza delivery driver was shot at, has such a law that "removes the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense when a person is not engaged in unlawful activity and is in a place where a person has a right to be," according to the gun control advocacy group Giffords Law Center, which tracks gun laws around the country.

Contributing: Terry Collins, Natalie Neysa Alund and Thao Nguyen, USA TODAY

A shooting over pizza delivery mix-up? Small mistakes keep proving to be dangerous in USA. (2024)


How dangerous is being a pizza delivery driver? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a pizza delivery driver is at a higher risk of injury and death than a construction worker or police officer. While most pizza delivery drivers are hurt and killed in traffic accidents, many others are attacked, assaulted and even shot while out on delivery.

Is pizza delivery more dangerous than being a cop? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a pizza delivery driver is at a higher risk of injury and death than a construction worker or police officer. BLS statistics reported of the 5,553 total workplace fatalities that occurred throughout the country, delivery drivers made up 1,005 of them.

Are pizza delivery jobs more dangerous than police? ›

Police Officers suffer 13 deaths per 100,000 officers on average. Delivery drivers at number eight with 28 fatal injuries per 100 workers.

Is it dangerous to be a food delivery driver? ›

Delivery drivers are on the road for almost their entire shift, which means that they are at far greater risk of a crash based on the number of miles that they travel than the average person. They also often need to navigate unfamiliar areas, which also increases their collision risk.

Is being a food delivery driver dangerous? ›

Delivery drivers are an essential part of the modern economy, and yet it's one of the most dangerous jobs, with a unique set of safety challenges. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, shows that 887 delivery and truck drivers died at work during 2020 — and that's not even counting injuries.

Are food delivery drivers safe? ›

The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts food delivery drivers in the category of “drivers-sales workers” and ranks them 5th on the top ten list of dangerous occupations. According to a CNN.com report, the study selected occupations that had the highest fatalities per 100,000 employees in that line of work.

Do you make a lot of money as a pizza delivery driver? ›

As of May 3, 2024, the average hourly pay for a Pizza Delivery Driver in the United States is $15.91 an hour.

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