Sometimes you don’t want to hold ’em like they do in Texas.
A Lone Star State man officiating a wedding in Nebraska over the weekend accidentally shot his grandson in the shoulder as the elder man pulled out a revolver to corral the crowd and begin the ceremony, according to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.
Michael Gardner, 62, stands accused of one count of child abuse for negligently firing his Pietta 1860 snub nose revolver, authorities say.
“We end up learning that a gentleman who was officiating the wedding decided to gain everybody’s attention and start the wedding with a bang,” Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ben Houchin said at a press conference on Monday.
Houchin added that Gardner simply intended to fire a blank into the air in order “to get everybody to come up to the wedding.”
“When he decided to cock back the hammer of this revolver it slipped and it shot his grandson in the left shoulder, causing an injury,” Houchin said.
The deputy later mimicked the motion of a person pulling their gun from their holster and how the action could result in an accidental discharge with disastrous results for anyone immediately nearby – like where Gardner’s grandson was standing at the time.
The defendant’s 12-year-old grandson had to be transported to two hospitals to deal with the gunshot wound, the sheriff’s office said, but the boy’s injuries are not considered life-threatening.
But Gardner had actually fired a blank, authorities say.
“It was a blank,” Houchin said in response to a question from a local reporter. “What it was is: it was a .45 Colt ammunition. What he did was put black powder into the casing and then glued it. And what we believe is the glue is what injured the child.”
Law enforcement recovered the weapon, the spent casing, and the ammunition, authorities said. Gardner turned himself in on Monday.
“Playing with firearms, no matter what, if they’re blanks, bad things can certainly happen,” Houchin said.
The deputy reiterated that the LCSO investigation determined the shooting was accidental and that alcohol was not involved.
“We do not believe Michael intended to hurt his grandchild,” Houchin said. “But the act was not very smart.”
Without giving an exact number of attendees, the deputy said there were “a bunch of people” at the Hillside Events facility on the day in question. Houchin said someone forgot the rings, so the wedding was delayed by roughly 45 minutes, resulting in crowds of people dispersing and milling around all over the place – and that’s what prompted Gardner to try and loudly get their attention.
“It was pretty warm on Saturday, too,” Houchin said.
The deputy defended the child abuse charge, despite the accidental nature of the incident, due to the seriousness of the injuries, the use of a firearm, and because of how “neglectful” the defendant had been. Houchin also said the facts fit the statute but added that it was ultimately up to the county attorney if the charges are pursued.
Gardner was briefly booked in the local jail but is no longer listed as an inmate by the Lancaster County Department of Corrections.
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