DENTON, NE – A county commissioner from Texas is potentially facing a felony charge in Nebraska after his 12-year-old grandson was accidentally shot during a wedding ceremony he was conducting. The incident occurred on Saturday evening at an outdoor wedding near Denton, a small town in southeastern Nebraska. Michael Gardner, 62, from Odessa, Texas, was intending to fire a blank round from a revolver to mark the beginning of the ceremony. However, the gun discharged as he was pulling back the hammer, striking the boy just below his left shoulder.
Gardner, who is an Ector County Commissioner in Texas, was officiating his nephew’s wedding. He explained that he had prepared the blank round himself, using an empty shell, black gunpowder, and hot glue. It is believed that the dried glue caused the injury to the boy. Gardner disputed the law enforcement’s statement that he fired the gun to attract the attention of the wedding attendees. He clarified that the gun was part of the wedding script and was fired to cue the music and the bride’s entrance.
The injured boy was rushed to a hospital in Lincoln and then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Omaha. After receiving stitches, he was discharged make a full recovery. Gardner, who stayed with his grandson throughout the ordeal, turned himself in to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. The Sheriff’s Office has recommended a charge of felony child abuse, which would result in a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Despite the recommendation, prosecutors have yet to charge Gardner. A hearing was held on Tuesday, and prosecutors will decide by a scheduled November 3 arraignment whether to file charges. Gardner, who is in his first term as Ector County Commissioner and plans to seek re-election next year, acknowledged that a felony conviction could end his political career.