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Stray bullet hits pastor's daughter in head at Pinellas church

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 02:19 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

The pastor's daughter was accidentally shot at his Pinellas County church Sunday afternoon while two men inspected a gun they thought was unloaded.

The shooting happened at 12:24 p.m. at Grace Connection Church, at 4017 56th Ave. N. in Lealman, an unincorporated area outside St. Petersburg, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. About 40 people were lingering in the church's fellowship hall after the 10:30 a.m. service when the gun went off.

Hannah Kelley, 20, was shot in the head and rushed to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, where she underwent surgery, the sheriff's office reported. Her condition was unknown Sunday.

Church member Tony Diehl was getting his daughter from the nursery when "there was a bit of a ruckus."

"I was shocked," he said. "This is a church where I go. I wouldn't expect something like this to happen."

The church, which meets in an old fire station, is a tight-knit community, where everyone's on a first-name basis, Diehl said.

Hoping to protect other church members,Moises Zambrana, who handles the sound system for the church, took Dustin Bueller and another man into a closet off the fellowship hall to show Bueller his 9 mm Ruger pistol, sheriff's office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said. Bueller, 20, who is dating Kelley, was interested in buying a gun.

Zambrana, 48, is licensed to carry the gun and was explaining its safety features. He had taken out the magazine and thought the chamber was empty, Barreda said.

The gun went off, and the bullet went through a wall and hit Kelley, the Rev. Tim Kelley's daughter.

No charges have been filed in the shooting.

"It does appear that this was a tragic accident," Barreda said.

Now, church members are praying for Kelley, their pastor and their family.

"The pastor's always there for us and anybody who needs it, and God's always there for us and anybody who needs it," Diehl said. "It's important for all of us to be on the same page, to be there for her and the family to pray."


WFLA reporter Josh Green and Tampa Tribune reporter Eddie Daniels contributed to this report.

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