Raleigh, N.C. — Officials said the Dixie Gun and Knife Show will continue Sunday without private gun sales after three people, including a retired sheriff's deputy, were injured Saturday when a gun brought in by a patron who planned to sell it accidentally discharged.
A man identified as Gary Lynn Wilson, 36, of Wilmington, brought the 12-gauge shotgun to the show at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds and was attempting to remove it from its case when the weapon went off shortly after 1 p.m., police said.
Linwood Hester, 50, of Durham, was struck in the left hand by birdshot, according to Joel Keith, police chief with the state Department of Agriculture. The birdshot also struck a woman identified as Janet Hoover, 54, of Benson, and Jake Alderman, a retired sheriff's deputy from Wake Forest who was working at the event.
Alderman was treated and released at WakeMed North Healthplex for a minor injury, Keith said. Hester and Hoover were taken to WakeMed, where they were treated and released later in the day.
Visitors are supposed to allow security officials to check in weapons, Keith said, but Wilson removed the gun from its case before personnel had a chance to handle it. The shotgun was on a table by the entry door when it discharged.
"I want to emphasize that this was an accident," Keith said. "At the time, no employee, no officer had inspected that gun."
Show-goer Emory Lewis was standing nearby when the gun discharged.
"When I turned around, I heard the gun hit the table. And when I heard the gun hit the table, I heard the shot went off," he said. "And the guy that was standing right it front of me...it went through his hand. Then I heard a lady hollering – it went through her side somewhere."
No decision has been made about whether any charges will be filed against Wilson, authorities said. The investigation has been turned over to the Wake County Sheriff's Office.
The show, which is held inside the Jim Graham Building, closed for the remainder of the day but will continue Sunday without private gun sales. Authorities said no personal guns will be allowed on the property. Only guns sold by licensed dealers and vendors will be allowed.
The ban is in place for Sunday, the last day of the show, but won't necessarily be permanent, Keith said. Officials said they will review procedures to determine whether any changes need to be made.
The Dixie Gun and Knife Show has taken place at the fairgrounds for more than 30 years with an excellent track record for safety, officials said.
"If we thought that it was a problem or a hazard or was dangerous, we would not have this show," Keith said. "Let's keep in mind this was an accident, and I'm sure nobody hates this any more than the guy that owned that weapon."
Although many people rushed out of the fairgrounds after the incident, Keith said both patrons and officials remained calm during the incident.
"People didn't panic," he said. "People acted very responsibly, and I couldn't have asked the officers to have acted any better."
Accidental shootings were reported at two other gun shows Saturday in Indiana and Ohio.
In Indianapolis, police said a 54-year-old man was injured when he accidentally shot himself while leaving a gun show. And in Ohio, a gun dealer in Medina was checking out a semi-automatic handgun he had bought when he accidentally pulled the trigger, injuring his friend, police said. The gun's magazine had been removed from the firearm, but one round remained in the chamber, police said.