CRIME

Gun Safety Instructor Accidentally Shoots Pastor During Class

"It was just a freak accident."

A California pastor was accidentally shot during a gun safety class earlier this month. 

Instructor Phillip Rushing of the Personal Protection Institute in Modesto had just replaced his rubber training gun with a real pistol at the end of class when someone asked about how to handle an attacker with a knife, the Modesto Bee reported.

Tom Smith, a family pastor at The House Modesto who also helps with church security, volunteered to act as the attacker. During the roleplaying scenario, Rushing pulled out his weapon and shot Smith in the waist, above the hip, the paper said. 

Smith is recovering after surgery.

"We're just extremely grateful that he's OK, that he's alive, and I know a lot of people are wondering what's happened to him," Pastor Chuck Cutsinger told KCRA, the local NBC station. "The church is praying for him. We're praying for him through this hard time, but it looks really positive that he will be OK."

The church also issued a message of support via Twitter: 

Senior Pastor Glen Bertau told Fox40 that the shot missed Smith's vital organs and that the pastor is doing well. However, he is still in the hospital and his recovery is expected to take months.

He said Smith isn't holding any grudges against the man who shot him. 

"Nobody holds any animosity to anybody," he told the station. "It was an accident, so no one is angry. No one’s upset."

A parishioner agreed. 

"It was just a freak accident, the instructor, whatever they were doing and the gun had went off and I guess shot him in the stomach they said...but he's OK," parishioner Elijah Collins told CBS 13. 

Collins told the station that Smith has been through surgery. 

"The church is praying for him and the city is praying for him and his family," he was quoted as saying. "He's very missed right now."

Police are investigating, but Rushing has not been charged with a crime, the Modesto Bee said. 

 

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