A Jarrell, Texas, church was left in mourning last Saturday after their beloved pastor was shot dead in a tragic accident outside a gun show by his son-in-law.
A report from Keye TV said John Glover Warden, 59, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, died at the hands of his son-in-law, Jared Charles Priddy, when a gun Priddy was handling went off accidentally.
Cedar Park Police said they responded to a shooting call at about 5:07 p.m. Saturday at the Austin Premier Gun Show at the Cedar Park Center. The pastor and his son-in-law had taken a semi-automatic handgun with them.
Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix said the gun was unloaded prior to the men entering the gun show.
"What we do know is that the gun had been unloaded prior because it was brought into the gun show, inspected and tagged as unloaded," Mannix told Keye TV.
Detectives said Priddy reloaded the gun when they got back to their car and it went off hitting the beloved pastor. Warden was transported to St. David's Round Rock Hospital where he died.
Police are still investigating the shooting but so far it does not appear Priddy will be charged with a crime.
Michael Cargill, Central Texas Gun Works owner, said the shooting could have been prevented had proper gun handling procedure been followed.
"I'm going to load my loaded magazine into the handgun, release slide and then keep finger off trigger. I'm not going to point gun at anything I don't want to kill or destroy and then holster that firearm," he said in a demonstration.
Just last month, Priddy's wife and Warden's daughter, Marissa Priddy, doted on her father in a Facebook post accompanied by a photo of her father at her wedding.
"Even though he's not on Facebook, I'm thankful for a great dad!" Marissa noted in the post.
In a Facebook group for New Hope Baptist Church of Jarrell, Warden's friend, Mark Mcadams, had high praise for the pastor.
"I felt like I should write something here to say how much I appreciate the people in this body of believers. I saw again today how they draw together in faith. The whole purpose of why people like John Warden dedicate themselves to the ministry of Christ Jesus," he began.
"I do not have a grip on this as of yet, I will be honest. I am grateful for some time he [Warden] and I got to spend together this past week. My friend is with Jesus. Of that I am confident. He wanted everyone to have opportunity to meet the Savior. I pray that our body of believers remember him with gratefulness to God for the time we were able to have him with us," he continued.
"I call upon all of us to remain steadfast, pray for direction and protection, and simply love one another. Remember that we will see him in a better place and time. We love you Miss Paula, we love your family. May God grant us the grace to march with the zeal that John Warden had for the Gospel."
A memoriam for Warden, described him as a veteran pastor who had been in ministry since 1994 when he founded Grace Baptist Church of Salado. He ran that church for 18 years before moving back to his hometown of Jarrell to start New Hope Baptist Church, which he ran for the last six years.
"He had a heart full of care and concern for the hurting. Most of all, he had a passion to share his love for his Lord and Savior to anyone who would listen (and lovingly prayed for those who wouldn't)," noted the memoriam.