A 23–year–old self–described “patriot” who brought a revolver to Gettysburg National Military Park Saturday on Saturday amid rumors that anti–fascist protesters were planning to desecrate Confederate memorials, accidentally shot himself in the leg, reports USA Today.
Benjamin Hornberger, of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, accidentally triggered the revolver when he temporarily rested the bottom of his flag pole against the holster, according to witnesses.
A quick-thinking park officer saved Hornberger’s life by applying a tourniquet to his leg to stop the bleeding, said Sgt. Anna Rose, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Park Police.
Saturday marked the 154th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gettysburg, and several activities are planned over the weekend to honor the occasion. But days before, a rumor began spreading on social media that Antifa groups had planned to crash the event, destroy gravestones, and burn Confederate flags.
Three groups of right–wing “patriots,” including Sons of Confederate Veterans and Real 3% Risen, quickly rallied to save the Confederate flags and tombstones by organizing a “free speech” counter–demonstration.
Central PA Antifa issued the following statement to Fox News 43:
Further, we have traced the rumor back to a Facebook page for a fake Antifa group calling themselves Harrisburg Antifa. This page is not run by antifascists but by alt-right trolls attempting to discredit Antifa, create confusion, and attempt to stir violence. Central PA Antifa does not condone the desecration of graves. In particular, we would never damage the historical value of Gettysburg, a site of great historical importance in the struggle against oppression.
That battle was a turning point in the war that eventually led to the freeing of millions of slaves. The Confederacy and their ideology were dealt a resounding defeat at that battle, as fascism itself will one day be defeated by the will of all people to be free from oppression.
Following the accidental shooting, the so-called Confederate “patriots” gathered together to pledge their “undying devotion to the cause.”
The Sons of Confederate Veterans pledge allegiance to the Confederacy in Gettysburg pic.twitter.com/Pf2tCsw4XV
— Andy Campbell (@AndyBCampbell) July 1, 2017
According to USA Today, the antiquated firearm discharged a second time while a police officer attempted to get ammunition out of the gun.
“It was apparently an old gun, not in good working order,” Gettysburg National Military Park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon told the newspaper.
A Huffington Post reporter interviewed some of the event’s attendees, including one man who identified himself as a member of the KKK:
“I salute the Confederate flag,” they said in unison, “with affection, reverence and undying devotion to the cause for which it stands.”
Billy Snuffer, who identified himself as the Imperial Wizard for the Rebel Brigade of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, told HuffPost that there were KKK members scattered across the battlefield to “aid law enforcement” and protect the area’s 20 or so Confederate monuments from Antifa.
“The Confederate battle flag has nothing to do with slavery,” he said, standing in the same area where 154 years ago the Confederate Army marched into town, abducting free black Americans and sending them to the South to be sold into slavery.