A day meant to be filled with joy turned tragic over the weekend in Michigan. As the Detroit Free Press reports, the host of a Saturday baby shower in Gaines brought several people into the backyard to fire a cannon in celebration, a device police say resembled a "signal cannon," meant to produce a bang, a flash, and then smoke. Instead, "the cast material exploded," Lt. Liz Rich of the Michigan State Police tells WJRT, which notes 26-year-old Evan Thomas Silva was standing about 15 feet away. Silva, a friend of the host, was struck in the chest by shrapnel and taken to Hurley Medical Center in Flint, where he died of his injuries. Police say the blast was so intense that pieces of the cannon punctured a garage and three parked cars, with one chunk landing 25 feet away. "The cannon did not contain any projectiles, but it is suspected that the gun powder loaded into the device caused the cannon to fracture," police said in a statement, per ABC News.
MLive reports that the homeowner had purchased it at an auction and fired it multiple times before. Rich adds the cannon "almost looked homemade," per the New York Times. A firearms expert says that unless people really know what they're doing, using a device like this can end in disaster, like what happened Saturday. "Simply loading the wrong type of gunpowder, loading too much gunpowder in there can take ... an open-ended cannon and turn it into a bomb," he tells WJRT. Rich adds: "If there aren't regular inspections on a device like this, the cast material can wear away." Other deadly accidents have happened at baby showers and gender reveal events, though police say that this case was not a gender reveal situation. No charges have been filed, Rich tells the Times, and an investigation is ongoing. (Read more explosion stories.)