As he talked with his friend on FaceTime Wednesday morning, a 14-year-old boy was holding his father’s gun, Ohio police say.
The teen, whom police have not identified, thought that the weapon was “completely empty,” his friend told authorities. According to Fox19, the teenager accidentally shot himself in the face with the gun as his friend looked on in horror and then rushed to get help.
The teen later died because of the gunshot wound, according to WLWT5. He was a resident of Union Township, near Cincinnati.
Police say the teen’s friend went to a neighbor’s house, where he called 911, Fox19 reported. The friend reportedly told the operator that his friend “didn’t know there was a live round” in the gun and that he “just pulled the trigger and shot himself” in the face.
“I hung up immediately,” he told the 911 operator, according to WLWT5. “I was going to go check on him, but then I realized I should probably call the cops before I went to his house.”
As noted by WLWT5, it’s unknown why the 14-year-old wasn’t at school. He was enrolled at West Clermont High School as a freshman.
Gary Stroup, who lives in the teen’s neighborhood, mourned the death of the boy, who authorities say was home alone at the time.
“A 14-year-old, 15, a teenage kid,” he told Fox19. “You expect them to live forever. It’s been a tough day.
“All the kids in the neighborhood used to play in the street and do whatever other kids do,” he added to the TV station. “It’s pretty traumatic.”
Gunshot wounds lead to the death of 1,300 children every year in the U.S., according to a study in the journal Pediatrics, and injure 5,790 more. That makes them the third-leading cause of death for children in this country, the study’s authors noted.
Data from the Small Arms Survey found that in 2017, there were just over 120 firearms for every 100 people in the U.S., which has the highest proportion of guns-to-people in the world. Yemen came in second place with 52.8 guns for every 100 people.