ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- Ector County Commissioner Michael Gardner spoke publicly for the first time since he was arrested following an accidental shooting in Nebraska late last month.
Gardner was initially charged with felony child abuse in connection with the incident that left his 12-year-old grandson injured; he told the Commissioners Court Monday morning that there are no longer any charges pendning against him, but he does have another court date coming up on November 3.
Gardner expressed his remorse for the incident and said his grandson is expected to make a full recovery.
“As part of the scripted wedding activities, I was to fire a shot using a blank to signify that the wedding participants were in place, and the music should start so that the bride could be escorted up the aisle. Unfortunately, there was a mishap with the gun which resulted in my 12-year-old grandson being injured by the blank. Thankfully, he’s not expected to have any long-term (damage). I am extremely remorseful and thank God for ensuring his injury was not worse. I take full accountability…and every day I re-live those moments with dread,” Gardner said.
Gardner said he’s focused now on his family’s healing, buth physically and mentally. He’s also focusing on his duties within the Commissioners Court and will not step down, nor would he be disqualified from holding office, as long as he’s not convicted of any wrong-doing at the final outcome of the investigation.
“This situation does not affect my role as the elected Ector County Commissioner for Precinct l. Unless and until such time I am convicted of a disqualifying charge, I will continue to act in this role and will seek reelection as well,” he said.
Gardner thanked his wife, family, and the community members who have offered prayers and support since the incident.
The initial investigation into Gardner began around 5:00 p.m. on September 30 when deputies from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene of a shooting at an event center. In a news conference last week, Chief Houchin said that investigators learned that Gardner was officiating a wedding and tried to get the attention of attendees by firing a blank into the air; Gardener’s hand allegedly slipped as he cocked back the hammer of a revolver, which caused the blank to strike the boy’s shoulder.
Houchin said the blank was created using glue and black powder and that the glue is likely what injured the boy. The 12-year-old, also of Odessa, was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and was later transferred to a hospital in Omaha for further treatment.
Investigators said Gardner turned himself in following the incident.
“Playing with firearms, no matter what, bad things can certainly happen…we do not believe Michael intended to hurt his grandson,” Houchin said.