A gun show vendor accidentally shot a woman in the leg while demonstrating a gun and holster at a Pennsylvania gun show on Saturday, police say. Geoffrey Hawk, 44, of Warminster, was showing 25-year-old Krista Gearhart of Orangeville how the weapon operated when it discharged into her thigh, according to NBC 10 Philadelphia on Monday, June 30.
The Columbia County district attorney's office will now determine whether Hawk will face any criminal charges arising from the shooting, which took place at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds. The vendor was manning a booth for his business at the Eagle Arms Gun show at the time of the shooting.
Hawk told police he believed the gun was unloaded when he demonstrated a concealed-carry wallet holster to Gearhart. She was treated and released for a gunshot wound to the thigh at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
Hawk told investigators he had done the same demonstration about 20 times without incident prior to the shooting. He described it as "racking" the gun's slide to clear it of bullets each time. Somehow, the gun ended up loaded when Gearhart was shot.
Police did say that Hawk claims to have left the gun on display while he went about completing background checks on some other customers. He thinks it's possible someone loaded the gun when he was occupied.
And as strange as the story is, it does get stranger. The victim told the "Press Enterprise" that she doesn't blame the vendor for the shooting at all, according to ABC News.
Gearhart said Sunday that her heart goes out to Mr. Hawk, and described the incident as a "horrible accident." Gearhart says it's quite ironic to be shot at a gun show, but that if there's another gun show at the fairgrounds next year, she and her husband will be there.
Joel Koehler, organizer of the gun show, said Hawk was asked to close his booth and leave the show following Saturday's shooting. The show did continue Sunday.
Koehler said the gun show displays an entrance sign that reads, "No Loaded Weapons." He added that his staff checks all guns to make sure they are unloaded before being brought in for display.
Demonstrations typically involve the use of a plastic gun, rather than a real one, according to reports on Opposing Views. While there wasn't a magazine attached to the handgun, obviously there was a bullet in the chamber.
This just goes to point out the dangers of demonstrating with a real gun. Witness Eric Bower said he thought the other gun dealers were upset because the incident makes them all look bad.
Koehler confessed that Saturday's bizarre shooting was the first at any show he has held at the fairgrounds or anywhere else. Luckily there were some off-duty first responders on scene who rushed to Ms. Gearhart's aid.