Shelter in place: Lake Junaluska shooting causes commotion Saturday afternoon

Sep. 13—A shooting occurred Saturday afternoon at Lake Junaluska that led to a shelter in place alert for about 30 minutes.

The shooting happened in the parking lot of the cross at Lake Junaluska. There were no life-threatening injuries, and it involved two people who knew each other, according to law enforcement reports. Dispatchers received multiple calls about a possible gunshot wound at 1:13 p.m.

As a precaution during the incident, a shelter in place alert was sent out at 1:53 p.m. and was lifted at 2:23 p.m. A section of North Lakeshore Drive near Lambuth Inn remained closed Saturday while the scene was being processed.

"After the incident was reported, Lake Junaluska residents and conference center guests were informed that a suspected shooting had occurred," Lake Junaluska Executive Director Ken Howle said. "They were encouraged to stay inside and secure access to their location. Once the Haywood County Sheriff's office reported the 'all clear,' this was communicated to the community and guests. Safety and security at Lake Junaluska continues to be at the forefront of our thoughts and actions."

The alert caused commotion among residents in the area. Emilee Palmer saw three sheriff and police cars speed by their house. Curious, she ventured out to see what was going on.

"It wasn't until we were back at home that we were notified of the shelter in place," she said.

Christopher McNeely, 35, of Cullowhee, was arrested following the incident and charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, injury to personal property and misdemeanor child abuse.

The victim, 21-year-old Jasso Garcia Alejandro, was taken to an Mission hospital for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the leg.

The Haywood County Sheriff's Office reported that that the shooter and the victim knew each other. McNeely is alleged to have shot Garcia with a CZ 110 semi-automatic handgun.

McNeely had left the area and returned to the scene following a phone call with a deputy. He turned himself over to officers voluntarily and with no incident.

McNeely's charge of injury to personal property charge stems from damage to a 2000 Honda Accord owned by someone else, not the alleged shooter or victim.

The child abuse charge is due to the fact that McNeely created and allowed a substantial risk of injury by shooting a person while his own child, who is under the age of 16, was in close proximity of the firearm. McNeely's wife was also present.

According to his Facebook, McNeely owns McNeelys Construction, McNeelys Custom Corbels and The Cats Table, a restaurant in Cullowhee.

McNeely's bond was set at $750,000. He is currently being held in the Haywood County Detention Center.

"We are grateful to law enforcement, first responders, Lake Junaluska security, and everyone who responded. We are working closely with local law enforcement to review this incident and will continually improve how we work together," Howle said. "We are heartbroken and deeply grieved by what occurred and pray for God's healing in the lives of all involved, including the individuals, law enforcement, first responders, medical personnel, families and friends."