A preacher shot an 18-year-old man at a church fireworks stand early Sunday morning. The Wagoner Church of Christ had a fireworks stand in Muskogee to raise money for the youth group. The youth pastor and a 17-year-old boy from the church were spending the night in the tent to make sure nothing would be stolen. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports the pastor says he would shoot again if confronted with the same situation.


At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, Youth Pastor John Donnelly had a decision to make.


"I pulled my weapon and did what I needed to do," he said.


Pastor Donnelly and a member of his church youth group were guarding the fireworks stand early Sunday morning when at least five teenagers approached and started demanding some fireworks. The pastor says he tried to make them go away, then two of them starting fighting with the teenager from his church.


“At that point, it was to protect him, to me it appeared they were still chasing him out of the tent,” said Pastor John Donnelly.


Donnelly has a permit to carry a concealed weapon and is a former reserve police officer. He says in five years of selling fireworks he's never had any trouble, but he's always been there to guard it overnight.


“They'll steal you blind if you leave your stand unguarded, unprotected, they'll break in, tear doors off or cut into the tent to get in,” Donnelly said.


Donnelly fired three shots and one hit 18-year-old Darnelle Gilbert. He was hit in the chest and is recovering at a hospital. Muskogee Police tracked him to a nearby apartment.


After the shooting the church closed the fireworks stand and doesn't plan to reopen it. The youth group was using the stand to raise money for a summer trip, but now they'll have to find another way.


Muskogee Police say the shooting appears to be a clear case of self defense, and they're still looking for some of the suspects.


"We have six in custody and three more who we are looking for at this time," said Muskogee Police Officer Brad Holt.


All of the suspects are 17 and under, other than the one who was shot.


The teenager assaulted in the tent is recovering too, he had a couple of teeth knocked loose in the fight.


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6/24/2007