A 76-year-old veteran has been charged in connection with what police say was an “accidental shooting” Tuesday night in Tennessee. Police say an 8-year-old boy shot his mother with a gun he thought was a toy. The mother is listed in critical condition.
Charles Robert “Bob” McFarland Jr., of Atoka, Tennessee was charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, Millington Police said. McFarland’s loaded gun was “unsecured” inside a vintage WWII Jeep on display at a Veteran’s Appreciation Day event at a baseball stadium.
People who know McFarland say he “didn’t mean for this to happen.”
McFarland is a gun shop owner and with his family runs a military museum in Atoka.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Responded to a ‘Shots Fired’ Call at the U.S.A Baseball Stadium in Millington, Tennessee & Arrived to Find a Woman Shot by Her Son
At around 6:30 pm. Tuesday night, officers of the Millington Police Department received a call of shots fired at the U.S.A Baseball Stadium. When police arrived they found a woman who had been “accidentally shot by her 8-year-old child.”
Police said the boy was inside a vintage World War II jeep that was on display as part of a Veterans Appreciation Day at the stadium.
“The child found an unsecured handgun inside the vehicle and believed it was a toy gun. The child picked up the gun and pulled the trigger, firing a round which stuck the child’s mother,” police said.
Police said “no names of the child or mother will be released.” The mom was transported to Regional One Hospital. Police said in a statement on Facebook that her condition, as of Tuesday night, was listed as critical.
2. Neither the Boy Nor Mother’s Names Have Been Released. After Consulting With the State Attorney General’s Office, Millington Police Charged McFarland
According to a Facebook post, the Millington Police Department learned that the loaded and “unsecured weapon” belonged to McFarland.
“After conferring with the Attorney General’s Office Mr. McFarland was charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. No bond has been set at this time,” police said.
Police also asked for anyone with information in this case, to call the Millington Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
3. Veteran McFarland Owns a Military Museum & Gun Shop
The contact for the Tipton County American Legion Post 67, McFarland and his family operate the Mid South Military Museum in Atoka.
With a few TripAdvisor reviews, McFarland’s museum contains “artifacts from the Civil War to current War on Terror,” one reviewer wrote, adding, “Curator Bob is super friendly and knowledgeable.” McFarland is referred to as “Bob.”
He was described by another reviewer as “…friendly and quite knowledgeable.”
“Lots of stuff to see but you need to be patient it’s not in very good condition, as far as walking around. Crowded with stuff. Very neat. Has a gun shop and a dive shop next door which is very cool. Lots of stuff to buy like military surplus and tons in storage there you might not see so ask if your looking for specific things. They sell class 3 firearms, suppressors, dive gear, tech dive gear and some fishing gear. It’s a child’s dream (young or old)…” a reviewer on TripAdvisor shared.
“Bob and his family are custodians of some rich american military history with fully functioning vehicles, realistic displays and historical knowledge to match. Well worth the time to see and hear about it so we continue to pass this means of understanding our past through actual artifacts and knowledgeable guides.”
4. McFarland Has Support & Many Feel He Should Not be Charged. He’s Described as ‘The Sweetest Man.’ But Many Say His Responsibility Was to Secure His Weapon
Linda Maagoema Bomes wrote on Facebook that McFarland “didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“I served with him …this was an accidental shooting, yes the weapon should have been unloaded and put in a more secure place BUT also the parents should have exercised a better watch, children especially younger ones are quick and very curious, McFarland didn’t mean for this to happen, imagine how he feels …”
There were scores of similar comments of support for McFarland.
Angela Dunlap Kendall wrote, “Mr. McFarland is the sweetest man. My boys are now 12 and 9. We visited Mr. McFarland’s military museum in Atoka and he was great with my boys (then 10 and 7). Mr. McFarland also own a gun shop which we toured because my boys begged and were interested. I teach my boys not to touch other people’s belongings. I agree that Mr. McFarland should have used more thought to his actions but why aren’t we ever holding parents responsible for the supervision and training of the child? I hate this for Mr. McFarland to be made out to be such a bad guy. He is so kind and thoughtful. Tragic situation my prayers for all involved…”
5. The University of Memphis & University of Tennessee at Martin Baseball Teams Were Playing for the Annual Babe Howard Baseball Classic When the Shooting Occurred & the Game Was Stopped
Police said the mother and son had been attending the University of Memphis and University of Tennessee at Martin baseball game, for the annual Babe Howard Baseball Classic. Police said there were around 2,000 fans in attendance.
“Due to the incident the game was suspended,” police said.