Guns are illegal at protests in North Carolina but that doesn’t stop people from carrying. That much became clear this morning when a man harassing patients at A Woman’s Choice healthcare clinic in Raleigh shot himself in the leg.
According to reports from volunteers with the Triangle Abortion Access Coaltion who were onsite at the 3300 block of Drake Circle assisting patients, an unidentified protester, standing next to another man who was assembling a tripod in order to film patients and volunteers, shot himself in the leg.
At around 9:20 a.m., volunteer clinic escorts heard a loud popping sound, they told Kelsea McLain, the founder of the Triangle Abortion Access Coalition, a group of pro-choice clinic volunteers that works to protect patients and oppose anti-choice harassment and violence. They saw the man bleeding from his leg and multiple people onsite called 911. The man was taken away by EMS, according to McLain and the Raleigh Police Department. Police officers conducted a 30-minute investigation of the scene, McLain says, and then went on their way.
McLain says protesters and escorts were allowed to remain on the scene while officers conducted their investigation and that no other protesters were searched for weapons.
“[Police officers] acted like everything was fine and normal,” McLain told the INDY. “We are genuinely confused and concerned why the protest was allowed to continue uninterrupted. We are now at the point where we are very concerned RPD will do nothing to de-escalate and bring safety to the clinic until a patient or a volunteer or staff member is shot.”
RPD released a brief statement about the incident and its investigation.
“The gunshot was fired from the victim’s personal weapon and the discharge was accidental,” the release states. “After consultation with the District Attorney’s office, it was determined that he will be charged with possession of a firearm at a protest.”
On social media, people calling and tweeting RPD for information and demanding officers shut down the protest—which requires a permit from the City of Raleigh—say department spokespeople told them there is no way to verify that the man was a protester and not a passerby.
“There are no passers-by on Saturday, certainly there are not passersby who get mingled up or are standing in the middle of the crowd next to people actively filming people trying to access healthcare in a confidential way,” McLain says.
“We assumed gun violence would bring some sort of radical change to the clinic, something we never hoped would happen,” McLain says. “And now that gun violence has happened, seeing [RPD’s] reaction, we are deeply concerned for our safety, for the safety of the patients, the safety of the staff.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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