Former York County Coroner Doug McKown, who resigned in 2008 amid ethics complaints and arrests after being cleared of felony drug charges, accidentally shot himself in the hand Wednesday night, according to a police report.
McKown, 44, remained hospitalized Thursday at Piedmont Medical Center with a gunshot wound to his left hand. The .32-caliber Beretta Tam Cat handgun belongs to his girlfriend.
“It was kind of a freak accident,” McKown said Thursday from the hospital. “I was making sure it was safe and put it up, when it went off.”
The bullet went straight through his hand, McKown said, severing an artery and at least one bone.
A licensed mortician with more than a decade of coroner training, McKown said he was able to get pressure on the wound after the incident at his home in York before going to the hospital in Rock Hill for treatment.
“It was a lot of blood,” he said.
McKown told York County sheriff’s deputies at the hospital that he was getting ready for bed sometime after 9 p.m. when he picked up the gun, removed the magazine and racked the slide action back twice to ensure “the weapon was unloaded,” a sheriff’s office report states.
While standing in the doorway, McKown pulled the trigger and unintentionally shot himself in the left hand,” the report states.
McKown, who moved to Alaska after he resigned, came back to York more than a year ago to run a restaurant.
After a friend gave McKown a ride to the hospital, deputies were called to the hospital because of the admittance of a gunshot victim, the report states.
The preliminary investigation showed that the shooting was accidental, Sheriff Bruce Bryant said.
“There is nothing that has led us to believe it was anything but an accident,” Bryant said late Thursday.
McKown, a Republican, had run unopposed three times before he was suspended by then-Gov. Mark Sanford in 2006 after police with the York County drug unit charged him with felony cocaine sales.
McKown was found not guilty at trial in 2008. A jury did convict him of possession of half of a Viagra pill. He was placed on a year’s probation.
McKown came back to his post soon after he was cleared of the felonies but was almost immediately arrested on open container of alcohol charges while in a county-owned county vehicle in North Carolina. A passenger was charged with drug possession.
McKown then resigned as coroner and later admitted to four state ethics laws and was fined $1,000.