Local News

Raleigh gun show reopens after accidental shooting

Posted January 20, 2013

— One of the area's largest gun shows reopened Sunday after what authorities say appears to be an accidental shooting at North Carolina's state fairgrounds in Raleigh.

A 12-gauge shotgun discharged while its owner removed it from its case at a security checkpoint at the entrance to the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in the Jim Graham Building, fairgrounds Police Chief Joel Keith said Saturday.

Janet Hoover, 54, of Benson and Linwood Hester, 50, of Durham were hit by shotgun pellets and taken to a hospital, Keith said. Hoover was hit with small, birdshot pellets in her right torso, while Hester was hit in the left hand, Keith said.

Retired Wake County Sheriff's Deputy Jake Alderman, 54, of Wake Forest, suffered a slight hand injury and was treated and released at a Raleigh hospital, Keith said.

Authorities say the shotgun's owner, Gary Lynn Wilson, 36, of Wilmington, brought the weapon looking for a private buyer.

Although authorities said the shooting was accidental, it prompted event organizers to close early on Saturday.

It reopened Sunday, but private gun sales were prohibited and personal guns were not allowed on the property.

Shooting at Raleigh gun show Raleigh gun show reopens after accidental shooting

State officials said they have not made a decision on whether to make the changes permanent. 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.

Event goers said Sunday that neither the shooting nor changes affected their decision to turn out for the gun show.

"It made me a little nervous, but then, I heard it was an accident," said Kathy Froehlich.

While guns are banned from the fairgrounds during the annual state fair, Keith said he didn't know if Wilson might face criminal charges for bringing a loaded shotgun onto state property.

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, whose agency is investigating the shooting, said his officers would consult with prosecutors but that it was too early to know whether Wilson might be charged.

"What we see is an accident," Harrison said.

Wilson's shotgun discharged while he unzipped its case for it to be checked, said Brian Long, a spokesman for the state agriculture department, which operates the fairground.

"The weapon discharged before any of our employees had ever taken possession or touched the firearm or had an opportunity to make it safe," Keith said.

157 Comments

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  • junkmail5 Jan 22, 12:33 p.m.

    There are OLD guns that can go off if you drop em (or possibly slam it down on a table hard, which is possible here)... which is yet another good reason not to transport them loaded like this guy did.

    Just about anything made even vaguely recently would have a number of safety features to make that impossible though.

  • gregbscis Jan 22, 11:38 a.m.

    Whoever discharged the weapon is the one at fault or both are at fault if there is a rule regarding weapons need to be unloaded prior to showing up at the Gun Show. Remember Firearm handling rule number #1.

    "Regardless of its true state, GUNS ARE ALWAYS LOADED!!!!"

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 22, 11:24 a.m.

    "A gun doesn't just "Go off" that trigger had to have been pulled by someone." - heat764


    Well, we use to have an old 16ga single shot that didn't need a trigger pull. All you had to do was think about it. "Hey, is that shotgun in the closet?" BOOM! Seriously though, you could could pull back the hammer, then just bump the stock on the floor and it would fire. My Grandpa found the shotgun in a ditch somewhere, many moons ago. My brother has it now.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 22, 11:19 a.m.

    "firstly it rarely happens" - Grand Union


    Wrong. It happens thousands upon thousands of times, even in our local WRAL arena. You ignore it because it goes against your religion.


    "its impossible to prove that it ever happens" - Grand Union


    People can use the same flawed and warped logic to say we shouldn't have any gun regulations because you can't prove all the shootings from here on out will be deadly.


    "data that shows that owning a gun makes you 3X more likely to get shot than not owning one." - Grand Union


    Incorrect. Well, I guess I should say that the "data" is incorrect. It might show it, but it's flawed and full of errors, which has been pointed out to you many times before. But such is the nature of religion.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 22, 11:18 a.m.

    "really what are the odds of you ever needing an AR-15 to fight of bad guy with AK??????" - Grand Union


    Specifically against an AK? Probably not very high. But used in common house defense, about the same as any other gun.


    "are those odds worth one kids life let alone 20????" - Grand Union


    First you're talking odds, now you're talking numbers. Can't do that. You also have to express the odds of a kid getting shot with an AR-15.


    "LOl a lot more people go to the state fair than to your hobby show so it may well be that this one incident makes you statistically more at risk that at the fair." - Grand Union


    They have multiple shows. At least EIGHT scheduled for 2013. What numbers did you use for your calculations? And are you factoring in all the incidents at the State Fair? The stabbings, etc.?

  • heat764 Jan 22, 10:38 a.m.

    A gun doesn't just "Go off" that trigger had to have been pulled by someone. So was it the retired cop who pulled the trigger? I'm sure the retired cop won't be charged with anything even if it was his fault. Probably the guy who showed up with it loaded will get nailed to the wall. Because we all know cops aren't guilty right? its evil gun owners who should suffer right?

  • joeBob Jan 22, 8:06 a.m.

    According to some eye witnesses to the event, the retired (but in uniform?) cop pulled the trigger. The truth is out there somewhere. Also, GRNC points out that the mgmt and security at the NC State Fairgrounds had no authority to close the show or disallow people bringing in their guns for show or sale.

  • junkmail5 Jan 22, 8:02 a.m.

    according to N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-402(a) it is a Class 2 Misdemeanor for anyone to transfer ownership of a handgun..including inherited...without a permit issued by the Sheriff's Dept. unless the person purchasing has a concealed carry permit.-dsalter

    Yes... a _handgun_... which I already mentioned like 3 times. That's a state, not federal, requirement so it's only true in NC (and a handfull of other states with state-level laws on this)
    All OTHER guns there's no check, and no paperwork, whatsoever, required for private sale.

    Junkmail, they don't market guns for self protection?- Bill Brasky
    Sure, which is STOPPING OTHERS FROM KILLING YOU. Just like cars kill lots of people with their size, but they market the size as making YOU safer.

    There are laws depending on what town you are in-Bill Brasky

    Really? Again, show me where private personal pools (which are most of em) require lifeguards. You can't of course- so why are you against banning pools, since they kill more than ARs do?

  • robjustrob Jan 21, 7:58 p.m.

    Saturday's incident did widescale damage and set back the gun rights movement. First and foremost, three persons were injured. Inexcusable! And now, the media frenzy. We have CNN to capitalize on the misfortune of those three. We have Bloomberg and the Prezzydent looking down their noses at us NCarolinians as if we were a bunch of yahoos. If I were a rich northern politician, I'd be paying people to do these things.

  • chrisnrali Jan 21, 7:25 p.m.

    Here's your sign.

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