A man accidentally shot himself and his wife while discussing recent gun violence at a church in Tennessee, according to The Washington Post.
The Post on Friday reported that the incident occurred the day before at First United Methodist Church in Tellico Plains, Tennessee.
Tellico Plains Police Chief Russ Parks – whose department probed the accident – on Friday said that it began when about 20 elderly people met at the church the day before.
The group gathered at the church in East Tennessee for an early Thanksgiving meal, he said, before they started talking about recent mass shootings.
“Well, I’ve got my gun on me,” Parks said an 81-year-old church member said before pulling out his holster holding a .38-caliber Ruger handgun.
Parks said the man removed the magazine, cleared the chamber and displayed the firearm for the other parishioners.
The sheriff noted that another church member who missed this initial demonstration later asked the man to see his weapon.
The man obliged, Parks said, only to accidentally pull the gun’s trigger without realizing it was loaded.
A bullet next fired across the man’s palm before striking his 80-year-old wife, who was seated next to him in a wheelchair.
The projectile tore through the woman’s lower left abdomen before penetrating out the back of her right forearm.
Parks added that the bullet then hit a nearby wall and ricocheted, only to land beneath the woman’s wheelchair.
“They had their backs to it,” he said of people near the discharge. “Somebody hollers, ‘He’s been shot! She’s been shot! Call 911!”
The dispatcher responding to the 911 call shortly after 1 p.m. local time assumed someone had entered the church and begun shooting.
The assumption prompted the lockdown of a local hospital and several area schools for roughly 45 minutes.
Parks said that the couple’s health had stabilized as of late Thursday after they were taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in critical condition due to their respective ages.
The pair’s family has asked that their names not yet be released, he added, and no charges will be filed over the incident.
A mass shooting earlier this month killed at least 26 people and wounded at least 20 others when a gunman opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Shooter Devin Kelley, 26, was eventually found dead of a seemingly self-inflicted gunshot wound after fleeing the scene of the crime.