Man fires blank gunshot, accidentally injures grandson while officiating wedding in Nebraska: Officials

Man fires blank gunshot, accidentally injures grandson while officiating wedding in Nebraska: Officials


Sarah Al-Arshani
 USA TODAY

A Texas man was charged with felony child abuse after accidently discharging a gun and striking his grandson while officiating a wedding in Nebraska, officials said.

The Lancaster County Sherriff’s Department said 62-year-old Michael Gardner, a commissioner in Ector County, Texas, was officiating a wedding on Saturday when he tried to fire a blank round to get the attention of wedding guests.

The round from the revolver struck his 12-year-old grandson, who was standing near him.

“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,” Chief Deputy Ben Houchin said during a press conference on Monday.

Houchin said they believe Gardner made the blank rounds by putting black powder into the .45 casings and then gluing it.

“What we believe is the glue is what injured the child,” Houchin said.

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The Ector County District Attorney’s Office, where Gardner is employed, said in a statement it was aware of the incident and that Gardner will address the matter publicly next week.

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Grandson transported to hospital with non life-threatening laceration

The child sustained a deep laceration to his left shoulder and was taken to a local hospital with non life-threatening injuries. He was then transferred to another facility in Omaha for further treatment, Houchin said.

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Gardner turned himself in on Monday morning. Officials also retrieved the gun, ammunition, and casing from Gardner. Houchin said he doesn’t believe Gardner intended to harm his grandchild but called his actions “not very smart.”

“It’s just kind of neglectful to take a gun out that has blanks and fire it amongst people,” Houchin said. “Playing with firearms, no matter what, [even] if they’re blanks, bad things can certainly happen.” 

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Gardner charged with felony child abuse

Houchin said Gardner was charged with felony child abuse because of the seriousness of the injuries. If he’s convicted, he could face up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Under Nebraska law, a negligent act that results in serious bodily injury would constitute a felony charge.

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