An as yet unnamed 81-year-old Tennessee man accidentally shot his wife, 80, in the First United Methodist Church in Tellico Plains, pictured above, after he gave parishioners a lesson in gun safety on Thursday.
The Christian Post reports that the bullet tore through the woman’s lower left abdomen, exited the right side of her abdomen, then ripped through her right forearm before exiting through the back of her forearm.
The man was celebrating at an early Thanksgiving event with around 20 other seniors citizens. In light of the recent mass shootings in the US, including the massacre at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas, the group decided to discuss gun safety.
The man quickly volunteered to demonstrate, declaring:
Well, I’ve got my gun on me.
Tellico Plains Police Chief Russ Parks explained that the man pulled out his holster to reveal a .38-caliber Ruger handgun. He then removed the magazine, cleared the chamber and began showing the gun to the other parishioners.
The group later discussed how to bring guns to church safely.
After the discussion and demonstration, the man replaced the magazine in his gun and holstered it.
The group was cleaning up after the meal when a church member who had missed the gun safety demonstration asked to see the gun.
As he was about to show it to the member, the man accidentally pulled the trigger of the still loaded gun, and the bullet hit his wife who was sitting next to him in a wheelchair.
Police say misinformation about what initially happened at the church sparked a brief lockdown at the local hospital and several local schools before police realized what really happened at the church.
Most of the members who were there did not realise the church member was showing the gun again, so many assumed they were dealing with an active shooter at the church.
They had their backs to it. Somebody hollers, ‘He’s been shot! She’s been shot! Call 911!’ So someone grabs their cellphone and calls 911, and says we’ve had somebody shot at church.
According to this report, the bullet hit the man’s hand before it struck his wife. Both were taken to the hospital and are not believed to have life-threatening injuries.
A parishioner identified only as Mistin said the injured man is a lifelong gun-owner who practices every week. But, according to the BBC, she said the gunman, whom she thinks lost a thumb, been so traumatised by the incident that he plans to get rid of his weapons.
They’re just true servants of the Lord, they’re such a delight. We thank God. I don’t know how God’s using this but we put it in His hands.