California gun safety instructor accidentally shoots student, a pastor

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Pastor shot during gun safety class
A pastor in Modesto, California, was accidentally shot by his instructor during a gun safety class

MODESTO, CA (KTRK) -- A gun safety instructor accidentally fired on a student, who is also a popular pastor, in Modesto, California.

The pastor, Tom Smith, survived the gunshot wound he sustained while enacting a scenario with the instructor. The gun accidentally went off.

Elijah Collins, a parishioner at Smith's church, said, "It was just a freak accident, the instructor, whatever they were doing and the gun had went off and I guess shot him in the stomach they said...but he's OK. He went through surgery."

Smith helps with the church's security.

Modesto police say the gun fired at the end of class -- after the instructor put a mock gun down and picked up his real loaded gun.

Police tell station KOVR it's unclear at this point whether the instructor believed he was using the mock gun he had been using to teach the class.

For now, the church is praying for Smith's recovery. Collins said, "The church is praying for him and the city is praying for him and his family. He's very missed right now."