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Suspect and Volunteer Both Fire Warning Shots at Each Other During Confrontation at Church

NASHVILLE, TN – Detectives are asking for the public’s assistance in identifying a man who pulled a gun and fired a shot near the parking lot of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 3112 Nolensville Pike, late Saturday night after yelling at volunteer workers on the property.

The incident occurred as volunteers were assisting with traffic for an evening mass at the church. Witnesses reported that a man walking his dog westbound on Sunrise Avenue began yelling obscenities at them. The man then removed a holstered pistol while still in the roadway. In response, one of the volunteers pulled his own gun. The man fired a shot into the ground, and the volunteer discharged a round into the pavement, causing the man to flee.

The suspect is believed to live in the immediate area and has been seen walking on prior evenings. His motive for confronting the volunteers in the church parking lot remains unknown. Anyone recognizing the man from the attached cell phone image taken by one of the churchgoers is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and qualify for a cash reward.

Why Warning Shots Are a Bad Idea

The incident underscores the potential dangers and legal implications of firing warning shots. While the volunteer may have intended to deter the man from escalating the situation, firing a warning shot can have serious consequences.

Warning Shots in Self Defense: Considerations and Consequences

Legal Ramifications

Most states legally treat warning shots as the use of deadly force. This applies even if no one is injured or killed. For example, in Georgia, the Supreme Court ruled that a warning shot can be considered aggravated assault, which is a serious charge. In California, discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner can result in felony charges.

Safety Concerns

Warning shots can be unpredictable and dangerous. Bullets fired into the ground or air can ricochet or stray, posing risks to bystanders. Additionally, firing a warning shot can escalate a situation, potentially provoking a violent response from the aggressor.

Tactical Disadvantages

Firing a warning shot can also compromise your position. In the time it takes to fire a warning shot, the aggressor could close the distance and attack. Furthermore, discharging a firearm unnecessarily can leave you vulnerable if your gun malfunctions or if you have limited ammunition.

Best Practices

Instead of firing warning shots, responsible gun owners should be prepared to use their firearm only when there is a clear and imminent threat to their life or the lives of others. Proper training and understanding of self-defense laws are crucial. It is always advisable to de-escalate a situation whenever possible and to avoid using deadly force unless absolutely necessary.

In summary, while the volunteer’s intention may have been to prevent harm, firing a warning shot was not the best course of action. Gun owners must understand the serious legal and safety implications of using their firearms and should only resort to shooting when faced with an immediate threat to their safety.

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