Two accidentally shot in church while discussing church shootings

Guns on a table. Photo courtesy of Rod Waddington via Flickr.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (USA Today) — A man accidentally shot himself and his wife at an east Tennessee church while he was showing off his gun during a discussion on recent church shootings, police said.

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Elder members of First United Methodist Church in Tellico Plains were cleaning up about 1 p.m. Thursday (Nov. 16) after enjoying a luncheon held to celebrate Thanksgiving. They began talking about guns in churches, according to Tellico Plains Police Chief Russ Parks.

A man in his 80s pulled out a .380-caliber Ruger handgun and said, “I carry my handgun everywhere,” according to Parks.

The man removed the magazine, cleared the chamber and showed the gun to some of the other men in the church. He put the magazine back in, apparently loaded a round in the chamber and returned the gun to its holster, Parks said.

“Somebody else walked up and said, ‘Can I see it?'” Parks said. “He pulled it back out and said, ‘With this loaded indicator, I can tell that it’s not loaded.'”

The man pulled the trigger.

“Evidently he just forgot that he re-chambered the weapon,” Parks said.

The gun was lying on its side on a table. The bullet sliced the palm of the man’s upward-facing hand, then entered the left side of his wife’s abdomen and exited the right side, Parks said.

Both the husband and wife, who is also in her 80s, were flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with injuries that police said didn’t appear to be life-threatening. Their names had not been released as of Thursday evening.

Charges will not be filed, Parks said.

This story is available for republication.

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Travis Dorman