Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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.