Deputies: Prominent minister shot, killed while cleaning pistol

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Prominent Charlotte minister Phillip Davis was found dead of an apparently accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his Union County home Saturday, officials said.

According to the Union County Sheriff's Office, Davis' wife Cynthia called 911 around 1:10 p.m. and said her 62-year-old husband had shot himself at his home on Waybridge Way in Weddington.

Deputies told Channel 9 that Mrs. Davis found the pastor collapsed at his desk. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

According to Chief Deputy Ben Bailey, there were no signs of foul play.

“Based on the preliminary investigation and interviews at the residence, it does appear that this was an accidental shooting,” Bailey said.

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Investigators said Davis contacted his adult son earlier that morning and told him he planned a trip to the firing range, and invited him along, although his son was unable to join him.

Deputies said Davis was in the process of cleaning his pistol at the desk when it accidentally fired, striking him in the chest.

Davis founded Nations Ford Community Church in 1988 and was a preacher for 40 years. He also preached on television and traveled extensively in his work.

He had been vocal in the weeks leading up to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall “Wes” Kerrick’s manslaughter trial.

Kerrick was charged in the killing of Jonathon Ferrell in 2013. Jurors in Kerrick's recent trial could not agree on a verdict, which led to a mistrial.

On Friday, Attorney General Roy Cooper said he would not retry the officer.

In June, prior to the trial, Davis and nearly 100 other pastors and community leaders had a conversation about what would happen in Charlotte when Kerrick went to trial. They spoke against violent protests ahead of the officer’s trial.

"You hear frustration, you hear concern and, yes, you hear anger," Davis said at the June meeting.

Davis said he wanted to support churches to take the lead in offering alternatives to destructive behavior during protests while acknowledging that communities need to be allowed to express their anger and frustration.

"We’ve got together ourselves to discuss and then have plans and strategies to help make the situation a peaceful situation," Davis said.

Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey and his deputies told Channel 9 they extend their condolences to the family, and appreciate their understanding and cooperation during the investigation.

Nations Ford Community Church will hold a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. Monday at the church.

Bishop Claude Richard Alexander Jr. of The Park Church released this statement on Davis’ death:

Upon my arrival at University Park Baptist Church, one of the first people that I was encouraged to meet was Pastor Phil Davis. I was told of his step of faith in leaving an established church to begin the work of the Nations Ford Church.

I remember our meeting and his welcoming me to the city. I was struck by how down to earth he was as well as being focused on offering God and God's people his very best. We all have been blessed by the wisdom of his leadership, the power and insight of his preaching and teaching, and the consistency of his example as husband, father, and now grandfather. His most recent effort to provide leadership in an effort to effect racial reconciliation among clergy and churches is but another example of a heart sensitive to the heart of God.

To say that we are saddened and shocked is an understatement. Kim and I along with The Park Family extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Pastor Cynthia Davis, the Davis family, and the Nations Ford Community congregation.