LANCASTER COUNTY, Neb. (KMID/KPEJ) — A man officiating a wedding over the weekend in Nebraska accidentally shot his 12-year-old grandson during the ceremony, police said.
Michael Gardner, 62, was trying to get the attention of guests when he fired a blank into the air on Sept. 30 at a venue in Denton, according to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office. The ceremony was running about 45 minutes late because someone forgot the wedding rings, Chief Deputy Ben Houchin explained at a Monday morning press conference.
So Gardner, who lives in Odessa, Texas, decided to “start the wedding with a bang,” Houchin said during the briefing. The 62-year-old’s hand allegedly slipped as he cocked back the hammer of the revolver, which caused the blank to strike the boy’s shoulder.
Houchin said the blank was created using glue and black powder and that the glue was likely what injured the boy. The 12-year-old, also of Odessa, was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was later transferred to a hospital in Omaha for further treatment.
Investigators said Gardner turned himself in following the incident and was charged with felony child abuse for neglectable firing of a firearm and injuring someone.
“Playing with firearms, no matter what, bad things can certainly happen,” said Houchin. “We do not believe Michael intended to hurt his grandson.”
Even though the sheriff’s office deemed the shooting an accident, Houchin said Gardner was charged due to the carelessness of the incident and the seriousness of the child’s injuries.
Gardner works as a commissioner in Ector County, Texas. The county released a statement asking for prayers for Gardner and his family.
“We are glad to hear that all parties involved are safe,” the statement read in part. “At this time, we do not have any information beyond what is publicly available, and our office will continue to monitor for updates.”