Man accidentally shoots himself at Gettysburg park rally

Armed civilians listen as Helena Rodriguez, right, of Reading, speaks with them near a demonstration area at Gettysburg National Military Park on July 1, 2017.(Photo: Dan Rainville, The Evening Sun)

HANOVER, Pa. — A 23-year-old Pennsylvania man participating in a free speech rally at Gettysburg National Military Park accidentally shot himself in the left leg with a revolver Saturday, officials said. 

The incident occurred just before 1 p.m. near the General George Meade Equestrian Monument. U.S. Park Police were nearby and able to quickly apply a tourniquet to the man’s leg, according to Katie Lawhon, a spokeswoman for Gettysburg National Military Park

Lawhon identified the man as Benjamin Hornberger of Shippenburg. The bullet struck him in the thigh.

Lawhon did not know if Hornberger was with a particular group, only that he was participating in the “First Amendment protests” that were taking place at the park Saturday. Federal law permits firearms in national parks


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Hornberger was in an area open to park visitors, but he was outside a fenced area where some groups had received permits for protests, Lawhon said.

Hornberger was taken to a local hospital by ambulance.

“It looks like he’ll be OK,” said Sgt. Anna Rose, a U.S. Park Police spokeswoman.

The gun accidentally discharged a second time as a law enforcement officer was attempting to get ammunition out of the gun, according to Lawhon. There was no damage or injuries from that second shot.

“It was apparently an old gun, not in good working order,” Lawhon said.

Lawhon and Rose said they were unaware of any criminal charges being pursued.

The groups participating in First Amendment activities were supporting the Confederate flag and planning to protest against the political activist group Antifa.

While Central PA Antifa leaders denied rumors that the group was planning a rally in Gettysburg this weekend, members of the opposition groups there remained unconvinced that they wouldn’t show up. No members of Antifa showed up at the park by the middle of the afternoon. 

Outside of the shooting, the first day of the annual anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg went smoothly. While it rained later in the afternoon, a battle re-enactment still took place in the morning. More re-enactments and events are schedule to take place Sunday. 

Contributing: Gordon Rago of  the York Daily Record

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