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Roulette death shocks school
Jun 08, 2006 12:00 am
June 2, 2006 – Shocked and saddened friends Wednesday joined the grieving family of a Mt. Juliet teenager to say a final goodbye to their classmate who died last week as the result of an apparent game of Russian roulette.
In what a grieving teacher described as a "surreal" experience, friends and family gathered Wednesday at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home in Nashville to pay their final respects to the Wilson Central High School 10th-grade student who lost his life while playing what his friends told police was a game of Russian roulette.
"I knew him very well. He was my student," teacher Teressa Parker said Thursday morning. "I'm in shock. It's surreal. I watched them lower his body into the ground. It's a tragedy. How do you bury a son?"
Through tears, Parker said the young man just completed 10th grade, and she taught him English while he was in the school's Freshman Academy. The veteran teacher said she reeled when she heard her former student died as a result of what she said was "not really thinking of consequences and playing around with a gun."
"There's shock and sadness," Parker said. "It's so tragic and so unnecessary. I know it wasn't intentional. It wasn't in his realm of consciousness – the high cost of playing around with a fire arm."
Mt. Juliet Police Chief Winston "Ted" Floyd said the tragic incident occurred just hours after Friday's summer dismissal. According to police reports, the young man left school and went to his Sunrise Circle home and was soon accompanied by three male friends ages 13, 14 and 15.
The report states shortly before 2 p.m. the four boys were hanging out in the victim's living room when he retrieved a .38-caliber revolver. According to the report, the three friends told investigators the victim asked them if they wanted to play Russian roulette and they all said 'no.' It states in the report the victim told his friends "nothing will happen," and proceeded twice to point the gun to his head, and "pull the trigger of the weapon in a rearward motion … both times not firing the weapon."
The report indicates in a third and similar scenario, the gun went off, discharging the bullet which entered the victim's head, exited and lodged in the frame of a mirror above the couch.
Floyd stated after the gun went off the boys ran out of the house and started to run through the neighborhood. The police report indicates the boys stopped and decided to call 911 and were instructed to return to the house where they waited for an ambulance and police.
The victim was transported to Summit Medical Center where he later died. While police are still investigating the incident, it has been ruled an accidental shooting.
Parker said as far as she knew the teenager she described as a "great kid" was not depressed or troubled, and she believed he did not know the grave consequences of playing around with a gun.
"He was a great kid," she said. "Most incredible. He was a joy to be around, one you couldn't help but love from the second you met him."
Parker said the teenager was very funny and he recently won a school award for "best wit."
Noting children this age sometimes "don't make good decisions," Parker stated parents can't "watch their kids 24/7."
"I applaud the parents who get into their children's world," she said. "This was a split second decision that cost a life. Kids are so spontaneous at this age."
Two Wilson Central High School counselors echoed Parker's thoughts.
"Games such as this are not prevalent," counselor Lindsay Macpherson said. "This age group is so carefree. They are thrill seekers and not thinking ahead. We have to tell them to be aware and make good choices and that recklessness causes tragedies."
Macpherson advised parents to reinforce to their children never to make snap decisions on something that can greatly affect your life.
Counselor Jodi Davis said the school faculty is in shock, and the students who knew the victim are torn to pieces.
"We are here if any student needs to talk," she said. "I don't think this boy had any idea how a gun operated. He thought he would be OK. I advise all children to think for themselves on such monumental decisions. At this age they just don't think past the moment."
At the funeral, however, the young man's friends were in the moment and mourning the senseless loss. Parker said the past few days she's done a lot of listening and holding of friends who "sob uncontrollably."
"The things I love about this age group is they are impulsive, spontaneous, and live on the edge," she said quietly. "The things I hate about this age is they are impulsive, spontaneous, and live on the edge. This boy was a big, 'ole wonderful guy."
Mt. Juliet Managing Editor Laurie Everett can be reached at 754-6397 or by e-mail at email@example.com.