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Man Says He Shot 'Right Wing Nut' Elderly Pro-Life Volunteer by Accident, Now He's Heading to Trial

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A Michigan judge announced this week that a man who allegedly shot an elderly pro-life woman while she was handing out pamphlets will go to trial.

Richard Harvey, 74, faced Judge Raymond Voet in Ionia County District Court Wednesday after allegedly shooting Joan Jacobsen, 83, in the shoulder last month.

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Voet heard testimony surrounding the ordeal, which took place Sept. 20.

As Faithwire reported, Jacobsen was handing out pamphlets at the time in Lake Odessa, Michigan, encouraging people to vote against Proposal 3, a state measure to codify abortion. If enacted, Proposal 3 would place abortion into the Michigan state constitution.

Voters are set to make a decision on the matter during the Nov. 8 election. As it turns out, Harvey’s wife, Sharon, reportedly disagreed with Jacobsen on the matter and the two exchanged words.

A gun went off at some point during the exchange. Harvey told police he had accidentally fired the weapon and didn’t mean to hurt the victim.

“I didn’t shoot her on purpose,” he reportedly said during a 911 call played in court. “She was a right-wing nut. I’m sorry I shot her.”

Harvey also previously told WOOD-TV it was “an accident” and said he was in the barn when he heard an argument unfold between Sharon and Jacobsen. So, he went outside to see what was happening.

“[Jacobsen] is still ranting and raving, and she’s got this clipboard. She’s waving it around. I’m thinking she’s going to smack Sharon with it,” he said. “So, without thinking, I went to club it away with the rifle, and my finger was still in the trigger guard. It went off and hit her.”

Voet expressed his relief over Jacobsen’s recovery, as the situation could have ended much differently.

“Thankfully, he didn’t kill or paralyze her, considering how close it was to her spine. We’re lucky that no one was more seriously hurt,” Voet said. “The court could ask why there isn’t a felony firearm charge as well, but that’s not my business.”

Harvey faces four charges, including assault with a dangerous weapon, according to The Daily News. He is free on bond and set to be arraigned on Nov. 8.

Jacobsen took the stand to share her perspective on what unfolded, claiming Sharon became angry after she went to the house to discuss Proposal 3 with her. Jacobsen said the conversation turned volatile, and Sharon allegedly told her to leave.

“Then I got off the porch and started walking back to my car,” she said. “She was yelling at me as I was going down the sidewalk.”

At one point, Jacobsen said she turned around and saw a man near Sharon – and then she noticed a gun, with events moving “fast” from there.

“By the time it registered in my brain that there was a man with a gun, I heard a shot and I felt the pain. I said to myself, ‘Did he shoot me?'” she said. “I was just in shock and I just started proceeding to get to my car, which was not too far away at that time.”

Jacobsen went to the police and then the hospital and was later discharged.

Michigan State Police previously told Fox News the incident unfolded after a “verbal altercation while Jacobsen was passing out pamphlets.”

Jacobsen and Harvey reportedly didn’t know one another before the Sept. 20 incident.

“The victim does not know the identity or motive of her shooter,” Right to Life said in a statement.

Anna Visser, director of communication and education at Right to Life of Michigan, said she doesn’t believe Jacobsen, a longtime volunteer with the pro-life group, will let the incident stop her from future activism.

“I don’t think it will deter her,” she said. “She’s a very strong lady, very dedicated to the cause.”

***As the number of voices facing big-tech censorship continues to grow, please sign up for Faithwire’s daily newsletter and download the CBN News app, to stay up-to-date with the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.*** 

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.