Grants councilor dies in firearm accident

J.R. Oppenheim
April 14, 2017 10:09 PM

GRANTS, N.M. -- An elected official in Cibola County died when his gun accidentally blew up at a target range.


Grants City Councilor Edwin Eli Dickens III passed away Thursday, Mayor Martin Hicks said. He was 64 years old.

Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace said Dickens' weapon malfunctioned and went off when he tried to correct it.

The weapon was described as a high-powered rifle, and the accident caused it to split in half, Mace said.

“From the scene, he had full ear and eye protection and nothing indicates there was foul play,” Mace said.

Hicks expressed condolences over Dickens' passing.

“It’s a sad day in the City of Grants," Hicks said. "On behalf of the city, the city council and the city manager, we are very sad of the tragic loss of our District 2 Councilman and friend."

Dickens told his family he was going to the shooting range in the morning but they got concerned when he never returned. Dickens' son found his body and alerted authorities, Mace said.

“He was apparently target-practicing in an open area," Mace said.

An autopsy is pending for the precise cause of death, Mace said.

Dickens served as the city councilor in District 2, Grants' most populated district, for three years. Hicks even called Dickens his "right-hand man."

Dickens was also a longtime Grants resident, Hicks said. According to his official biography on the Grants website, Dickens graduated from Grants High School in 1970 and attended the New Mexico State University's Grants campus. He was later graduated from New Mexico Tech with a bachelor's in mining engineer.

He worked in the mining industry and for the New Mexico Bureau of Mine Inspectors. He later worked for the Department of Transportation before retiring in 2012.

Dickens eventually worked as a teacher at Grants High School, was a Boy Scout leader for 10 years, and coached youth baseball and women's softball for several years.

Dickens is survived by his wife Shirley; two sons, Tyler and Bryer; and six grandchildren.

"Mr. Dickens was well known and well liked," Mace said. "It's a tragic loss for everyone in the community."


J.R. Oppenheim

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