Josmel Herrera’s family rushed outside after hearing a gunshot. They found him on the backyard patio with a bullet in his chest, barely clinging to life.
Beside him: an iPhone set to FaceTime, with a relative on the other end.
Herrera, 43, a sheet metal worker with a wife and 15-year-old daughter, had accidentally shot himself as he was teaching a cousin how to clean a gun. He died a short time later at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
Family members said the female cousin on the other end of the phone was watching the lesson on her iPhone when Herrera accidentally pulled the trigger. They declined to say if she saw the gun go off, or if she saw her cousin get shot.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
“It’s a terrible tragedy, a terrible accident,” Herrera’s relative Jorge Abreu said from the family’s Southwest Miami-Dade home Wednesday. “I guess she wanted to get a gun, and he was showing her the ins and outs.”
Friends on Tuesday paid tribute to Herrera on his Facebook page saying: “Rest in peace. We will miss you”; and “I’ll always remember with fondness someone who always remembered my birthday.”
Despite the frequent face of violence that plays out on social media and video — the Facebook murder case in South Miami, for instance, in which a husband posted his wife’s body, and the terrorist massacre in Paris — Herrera’s shooting will likely stay a private tragedy. FaceTime, Apple’s live streaming video chat, doesn’t record video unless a user specifically sets up a program to capture a conversation.
Police on Wednesday did not release further information on Herrera. On Tuesday, they received several calls about a man being shot. When officers arrived, they said he appeared to have “accidentally shot himself once in the chest” while talking to his cousin on a video call.
On Wednesday morning, grieving family members poured into the Herrera home at 10601 SW 27th St., just east of Florida International University’s main campus. Cars filled the home’s small driveway and spilled out onto the street.
Despite the overcast skies, Christmas lights cascading from the roof hadn’t been turned on.
Abreu, who spoke briefly outside the home’s front door, said Herrera’s wife and child “are doing as well as can be expected.” He said Herrera is a sheet metal worker who came to Miami from Cuba.
Abreu said the weapon that killed his cousin was the one Herrera used when he worked as a security guard. He called his cousin a responsible gun owner who has had a weapon for several years and never left it lying around.
In a similar accident earlier this summer, a Davie father shot his 12-year-old daughter in the arm while he was teaching her to clean a gun. The girl survived.
David Von Matt, a chief instructor for Miami Gun Classes who teaches the public and law enforcement on the proper use of weapons, called it “common sense” to clean an unloaded weapon.
Still, he said, it’s not unusual for him to hear about people shooting themselves accidentally.
A weapon “has to be pointed in a safe direction so no one would get hit if something happened,” he said. “Never point the gun at anything you don’t intend on killing, shooting or destroying.
“Making a mistake can cost you your life.”