By Mitch Traphagen
RUSKIN — The community and the congregation of the Ruskin United Methodist Church are mourning the loss of Rev. John Bartha, following his death from an accidental shooting on Saturday.
Bartha, known to congregants and many others in South Hillsborough for his dedication and work in the community, was the church pastor for six years. He had also led churches in St. Petersburg and Bradenton. Bartha was a former United States Marine and Vietnam War veteran who served in Vietnam for 13 months during the war. He earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1978 and was assigned as associate pastor to a church in DeLand, Florida. He was married and had three children.
HCSO deputies and Hillsborough Fire Rescue were called to Bartha’s home in Ruskin at approximately 4:50 p.m. on Saturday. According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Rev. Bartha, 64, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. The report described it as an accidental shooting and detectives do not suspect foul play.
A report from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office is expected to take several days.