Granddad accidentally shoots grandson, 12, while officiating nuptials, boy in hospital, wedding continues

A Texas grandfather was charged for accidentally shooting his 12-year-old grandson after the wedding he was officiating started with a literal bang.

The wedding, in Denton, Nebraska, was running late after someone forgot the rings. Once the missing rings were collected, Michael Gardner, 62, fired a blank round from a revolver trying to get the attention of the guests, who were scattered around the grounds at Hillside Events.

When the grandad cocked back the hammer of the revolver, it slipped back and shot Wyatt, who – along with his twin brother, Hunter – was standing near Gardner.

But that wasn’t the most shocking thing that day. Gardner proceeded with the nuptials as his grandson was being rushed to hospital.

On September 30, Michael Gardner, 62, of Odessa, Texas, was officiating the nuptials at this nephew’s wedding at the rustic barn in Denton, Nebraska.

According to Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, guests were scattered, and Gardner was trying to “gain everybody’s attention” after the wedding was off to a late start because “somebody forgot the rings.”

That was when Gardner decided to fire a blank round from the revolver into the air.

“When he decided to cock back the hammer of this revolver, it slipped and it shot his grandson in the left shoulder, causing an injury,” Chief Deputy Ben Houchin said, adding that Wyatt was standing close to Gardner at the time, both of whom were outside.

The deputy explained the firearm was a Pietta 1860 snub nose revolver and the blank round contained black powder inside the casing with glue.

“What we believe is the glue is what injured the child,” Houchin said in a press conference.

Wyatt was taken to a local hospital and then moved to another hospital in Omaha for “further treatment” of his non-life-threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, Gardner – an elected Republican official who’s served as a commissioner in Ector County, Tex., since 2021 – stayed back to finish his duties in marrying the couple.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Gardner said he regrets using a homemade blank.

“It’s hard knowing you hurt somebody that you love more than life,” Gardner shared. “Common sense would tell you that you don’t carry a gun around with a blank in it, and that it would do you no good. But the gun was part of the wedding, and it was going to be used to summon the bride.”

Gardner, who turned himself in, was charged with felony child abuse and negligence, due to the “seriousness of the injuries.”

Houchin said investigators don’t believe Gardner intended to hurt Wyatt, nor was there alcohol involved. Still, the incident fit the statute of child abuse.

“It’s just kind of neglectful to take a gun out that has blanks and fire it amongst people,” Houchin said. “Playing with firearms, no matter what, [even] if they’re blanks, bad things can certainly happen.” 

The deputy added, “We do not believe Michael intended to hurt his grandchild. But the act was not very smart.”

According to a Facebook post made by his mom Brittany Gardner, Wyatt – as of October 5 – is now at home but still being treated for his injuries.

“He has been a trooper!!! We also just want to say thank you for all the love, support, and prayers. Please keep them coming,” she writes.

The gun “was going to be used to summon the bride.” There are definitely safer ways to do this, especially at a wedding where there are so many people present!

Our thoughts go out to Wyatt and his family in his time of healing, and we hope the young boy recovers quickly!

Please share this story and let’s see what others have to say about this very unfortunate, and avoidable, incident!