The incident happened at the cemetery’s parking lot around 9:30 a.m., an hour and a half before President Obama was scheduled to lay a wreath at the cemetery.
According to a spokeswoman for Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBMHH), which has jurisdiction over the incident, a cemetery visitor returned to his car in the parking garage after visiting the gravesite of a friend. The man reportedly opened the door to his vehicle and tried moving a handgun from under the seat.
The privately-owned gun fell out of its holster and underneath the vehicle, however, and fired once as the man attempted to retrieve it. The discharged bullet hit the leg of a vehicle passenger — the man’s mother — who then had to be transported to George Washington University Hospital with a non-life threatening injury. Nobody else was injured.
Visitors are prohibited from bringing a gun to the cemetery, according to JBMHH spokeswoman Sharon Walker.
“Weapons of any type are not authorized on military installations or reservations such as [Arlington National Cemetery],” said Walker. “Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Police and Arlington National Cemetery security personnel responded to the call.”
The Ft. Myer Fire Department and the Arlington County Fire Department also responded to the incident.
The owner of the gun was an active duty military service member, according to JBMHH spokeswoman Leah Rubalcaba, and the charges are pending under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to Walker.
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