More information about a man whose gun went off in church

Published: Nov. 25, 2013 at 3:17 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2013 at 12:21 AM CST
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FLOWOOD, MS (Mississippi News Now) - It's a place of worship that turned scary for some Pinelake Church members on Sunday morning. It's the last place some expected to hear gunfire.

"They were actually having service and were singing hymnals," said Flowood Police Detective Sgt. Billy Tucker. "Mr. (Joseph Edgar) Ray had a 9MM in his front right pocket. When they got through singing he went to sit down and the gun accidentally discharged."

Flowood police were called to the church at 8:05 am about an accidental shooting. Where Ray and his handgun were taken into custody. He was later released.

Ray has a conceal carry permit, according to Flowood police. The permit would allow him to carry a gun inside a church. However, Pinelake prohibits guns on its property.

Under state law, the church could pursue a trespassing charge if it chooses. That doesn't appear likely but Ray will still have to go to court.

"We (Flowood police) went with what we felt like was appropriate at the time, to set a precedent, said Sgt. Tucker. "It was discharging a firearm in the city limits. It goes back to safety. If you are toting a weapon you need to be safe with it. You need to have it properly secured."

Police say Ray did not have the gun in a holster.

In order to get the enhanced permit, he did have to undergo hours of training.

Investigators say Ray is a long time member of the church and was not part of the security staff.

"When you get lax, that's when accidents happen," added Tucker. "Unfortunately there was an accident but fortunately no one was injured this time."

Pinelake did issue a statement, saying in part, this is a law enforcement and legal issue.

Some believe there is no problem with carrying a weapon but they are leery of them inside a house of worship.

"I think it's fine pretty much like everyday, I mean walking around or maybe driving," said Sabrina Thornton. "But as far as a church, I don't feel as though there is a need to carry a gun into a church. That's just me."

Ray's first court appearance is January 9, 2014 in Flowood Municipal Court.

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