Man dies after accidental shooting

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   A Carter County man who accidentally shot himself while showing a firearm to friends on Monday night died in the hospital Tuesday evening.
   Ricky L. Hardin, 26, of 169 Dan Cole Road, died around 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Johnson City Medical Center after he was taken off life support care according to information from the Elizabethton Police Department.
   According to reports, Elizabethton Police Department officers were dispatched to 411 E. L Street at around 8:45 p.m. Monday and upon their arrival found Hardin in the driver's seat of a 1989 Ford Bronco with a gunshot wound to the right temple area and Peter Burke holding a towel to the wound.
   "According to Mr. Burke, who was standing outside the vehicle at the time of the incident, Mr. Hardin was showing him and Kermit H. Hinkle and Andrew J. Deloach, who were inside the vehicle at the time, a Phoenix semi-auto .22 LR pistol and advised the gun had two safeties and would not go off with one safety off," states EPD Ptl. Shannon Peters in his report. "At that time, according to all three witnesses, Mr. Hardin stated 'I'll show you,' and put the pistol to his head and pulled the trigger."
   At that time, the gun discharged and Hardin was shot in the right temple, according to police reports.
   Hardin had been listed in "critical condition" at the Johnson City Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon according to EPD Det. Ed McGee, who investigated the incident.
   Emergency medical personnel with the Carter County Rescue Squad responded to the scene and treated Hardin there until Wings Air Rescue arrived and transported him to the Johnson City Medical Center.