Doctor charged for pointing gun during vigil

CHARLESTON—A recent pro-life demonstration was marred by the threat of violence when a doctor pulled a gun on demonstrators.

Dr. Gary Boyle, from Blountville, Tenn., had driven into the parking lot at Charleston Women’s Medical Clinic on Ashley River Road Oct. 2 when he was approached by three protestors.

The 62-year-old physician responded by pointing a black handgun at them, according to a police report.

Boyle and his wife then walked into the clinic without further incident, the report states.

One of the alleged victims, 50-year-old John Karafa, called 911. The doctor was subsequently arrested on charges of pointing a firearm, and later released on a $25,000 bond.

Karafa was at the clinic as part of the annual 40 Days for Life campaign, which began Sept. 22 and will run until Oct. 31. 

The campaign is being held in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville and involves prayerful vigil 24-hours a day.

According to the arrest report, demonstrators were standing near the back entrance of the clinic handing out literature against abortion.

Boyle told officers that when the three men approached his SUV, he presented the gun because he was in fear for the safety of his wife, who was in the car with him, and himself.

Tom Barber, local director of the 40 Days for Life campaign, told the Post and Courier that participants must sign a statement of peace before joining the movement.

Traditionally, the 40 Days for Life vigil includes holding hands, lighting candles and praying, but not approaching doctors or patients.

The other two demonstrators, one of whom was a 17-year-old boy, were not part of the 40-days event. 

It is unclear why Boyle was at the local clinic. He and another physician operate the Bristol Regional Women’s Center in Tennessee.

The City of Charleston Police Department is investigating the incident.