During a complex initiation ceremony involving a noose, paintballs, and live fire, one Tennessee member of America's Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan shot another in the head, leaving the injured man unable to speak and in serious condition.
"Oh my God, I shot little brother!" was the first thing police say America's Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan member Gregory Allen Freeman said after he accidentally shot a fellow Klansman in the head during a Nov. 23 initiation in Johnson City, Tenn.
The ritual began to go awry after Klan initiate Karl Mitchell III, 27, was strung to a tree with a noose and made to stand on tiptoe while being pelted with paintballs.
According to Chief Deputy Patrick Littleton of Washington County, Freeman apparently meant to scare Mitchell with the sound of real gunfire by firing his handgun near Mitchell's ear.
But one of the paintballs apparently struck Freeman, causing him to buckle and squeeze off a round in the direction of Klan brother Jeffrey S. Murr, 24, who may have leaned forward after being hit with a paintball as well. A 9mm bullet entered the top of Murr's head and exited the bottom of his skull.
Freeman's reaction wasn't very helpful to his brother Klansman. A 45-year-old who goes by the nickname "Rebel," Freeman reportedly paced back and forth, hitting himself in the head with his handgun over and over, before he fled the scene.
Only Mitchell, the initiate, seemed to have his wits about him after the accidental shooting. After telling the Klansmen to cut him down from the tree, Mitchell rushed to Murr's side and applied pressure to the wound until help arrived.
Three months later Murr remained in serious condition, unable to speak.
Freeman was later found near his home and charged with reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. Released on $7,500 bail, he was scheduled to face a judge in mid-March.