As the owner of a popular gun store in Amelia, Ohio, James Baker was known for preaching safety first.
In the end, a gun-safety class cost the 64-year-old his life.
On Saturday, Baker was fatally shot when a student in a concealed-carry class at KayJay Gun Shop accidentally discharged a weapon while practicing malfunction drills, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The bullet traveled through a wall and into an adjacent room, where Baker was struck in the neck, the paper reported.
Baker was pronounced dead at the scene, according to ABC affiliate WCPO. Clermont County officials told the Enquirer that the death was accidental.
“I can’t say enough about him — how much he was loved by the whole community — and we lost someone really special,” Anita Fritz, a neighbor, told the station. “He loved and wanted to protect. That’s why he did what he did.”
The Clermont County Sheriff’s Office told the Enquirer that about 10 people were attending the concealed-carry class at which the shot was fired. The name of the individual who discharged the fatal shot has not been released, the paper reported.
According to the gun shop’s website, the class included basic pistol-safety instruction, two hours at a shooting range and two hours reviewing Ohio’s concealed-carry laws.
“All courses are taught by qualified instructors with Law Enforcement or Military backgrounds,” the website says.
Neighbors told NBC affiliate WLWT that Baker’s death is a loss for members of the community and law enforcement officers, whose weapons he serviced.
“Sheriffs and the cops come in and out all the time because they loved him, you know? Everybody did. All the neighbors did,” Fritz told the station. “So it’s a tragic thing that happened.”
The sheriff’s office told the station that the investigation is ongoing.