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TX: Freer police believe shooting death of 14-year-old boy to be accident

October 28, 2010

Freer police believe shooting death of 14-year-old boy to be accident

Pair were packing up guns after hunting excursion when one went off

FREER - Authorities believe two 14-year-old boys were packing up after hunting for the day when one of their rifles went off Wednesday afternoon, striking Eden Gonzalez near his left collar bone and killing him.

Freer police are treating the shooting as an accident, though the investigation isn't complete.

Eden was killed about 4 p.m. after being struck by a .222 caliber bullet, a type of ammunition common in hunting small game, Police Chief Roy Salazar said.

The teen was hunting turkeys with a 14-year-old friend in a wooded area near the Gonzalez home. Authorities don't know why the gun went off as the boys were packing up to leave, Salazar said.

Eden was taken to Christus Spohn Hospital Alice and later pronounced dead.

"Through our interviews and investigations, it appears to us that this was purely an accident," Salazar said.

It's the second shooting death of a juvenile in Freer in about as many months. A 5-year-old Freer girl was killed Aug. 18 after being shot in the chest by another child with an air rifle.

Word of Eden's death spread throughout the town of about 3,000, Salazar said, with many local blogs displaying outpourings of grief and condolences.

"It's a small, close-knit community," Salazar said. "Everybody is in shock. They had just gotten over the last shooting we had here."

Eden, an eighth-grader at Freer Junior High School, was a member of the school's 4-H Club, and was known as an accurate marksman, Salazar said.

He won several awards at shooting competitions, he said.

Child Protective Services have been called to investigate the matter, as is common when a juvenile is killed, a spokesman said.

Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary's Catholic Church. Burial will be in Hahl Memorial Cemetery.

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