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Pastor charged after one of his sons accidentally shoots his brother

The River Valley Baptist Church in Morganton, North Carolina.
The River Valley Baptist Church in Morganton, North Carolina. | Screenshot: Google Maps

A North Carolina pastor is facing criminal charges after one of his young sons accidentally shot his brother. 

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Monday to announce that it was charging Adam Vines with “Failure to Store a firearm to Protect Minors.” The charge against Vines comes six weeks after his 2-year-old son was accidentally shot on the grounds of River Valley Baptist Church in Morganton, where Vines serves as a pastor. 

According to the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, the shooting occurred on Oct. 15. After emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene, the toddler was transported via helicopter to CMC Main Hospital in Charlotte. The law enforcement agency said the investigation is ongoing and “information will be released as the investigation develops.” 

A report from local news outlet WCNC from last month details how the victim, Daniel Vines, was shot in the back of the head in the back of Vines’ vehicle by his 3-year-old brother as the car sat in the church parking lot. The shooting took place after Vines’ 3-year-old son found the firearm, which belongs to the pastor, and fired it at his brother by mistake. Court documents obtained by WCNC reveal that Vines is accused of not properly securing the weapon. Vines is due in court on Jan. 5, 2024. 

The law the pastor stands accused of violating makes it a class 1 misdemeanor for anyone who “resides in the same premises as a minor” and “owns or possesses a firearm” to leave the firearm “in a condition that the firearm can be discharged” and “in a manner that the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor would be able to gain access to the firearm” if “a minor gains access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor’s parents or a person having charge of the minor” causes “personal injury or death with it.”

If found guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, Vines could face up to 45 days of community punishment as well as the possibility of having to pay a fine. Under North Carolina state law, examples of a community punishment include “house arrest with electronic monitoring, community service, period or periods of confinement in a local confinement facility, substance abuse assessment, monitoring, or treatment, educational or vocation skills development program, or satellite-based monitoring.” 

Vines provided an update on the condition of his son, Daniel, to WCNC two weeks ago, nearly one month after he was injured in the accidental shooting. “Daniel is getting stronger every day and he can now drink on his own,” he said. The pastor noted that his son was receiving treatment at Levine’s Children’s Hospital and was expected to return home in about three weeks. 

The situation in North Carolina is not the first example of a parent facing consequences after a weapon ended up in a minor’s hands. In Newport News, Virginia, the mother of a 6-year-old child who shot his first-grade teacher was charged with the misdemeanor offense of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm as to endanger a child. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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