Last week, rumors began to swirl online that left-wing, anti-fascist “Antifa” protesters were planning to desecrate graves and monuments and burn Confederate flags at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania on Saturday, according to media reports.
Despite the local Antifa chapter insisting such rumors were untrue, counter-protesters were quick to mobilize. According to WPMT, four different pro-Confederate groups requested permits from the park to hold their own rallies.
But when Saturday actually came, Antifa wasn’t there, and only a few counter-demonstrators showed before noon as well, according to PennLive.
However, a few self-described “patriots” were present and told PennLive they were ready to stop any flag burnings or desecration.
“That ain't happening,” one person told PennLive.
As it turned out, there were gunshots fired Saturday, even if there was no violence.
According to the Hanover Evening Sun, a 23-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the thigh near one of the protests, and park rangers accidentally fired the gun again when attempting to take ammunition out of it.
The man, Benjamin Hornberger of Shippenburg, Pennsylvania, described himself as a “patriot,” according to PennLive. Nearby protesters told the outlet that Hornberger had come to the park to rally against Antifa but was not associated with any particular group.
According to the Evening Sun, Park officials say he was not inside one of the fenced areas where permitted protesters were stationed, but was taking part in the “First Amendment Protest.”
According to WPMT, a National Park Service Officer applied a tourniquet that stopped the bleeding and possibly saved Hornberger’s life. An ambulance was called, and he was transported to a local hospital. No charges are expected to be filed, as federal law permits handguns in National Parks.
Later, as Park Officers were attempting to unload the gun, it fired again, striking the ground and not hurting anyone, according to PennLive. A Park spokesperson described the gun, a revolver, as “bad” and said it was difficult to remove rounds from it.