16-year-old dies in accidental shooting, Caldwell Co. deputies say

by: Dave Faherty Updated:

GRANITE FALLS, N.C. - A death investigation is underway Monday in Caldwell County after a 16-year old was shot and killed.

Family members said Dekota Smith, a student at South Caldwell High School, accidentally shot himself while Skyping with a friend.

Counselors and clergy were at the school Monday to help students grieve.

Gregory Johnston told Channel 9 that he still can't believe his nephew is gone.

Johnston said Smith was at his grandparents’ home when he accidentally shot himself. Johnston said his nephew was showing a gun to a friend, using his cellphone to do a live video chat, when the weapon went off.

"The person he was talking to said he was looking at him face to face on his little phone and all of a sudden he could see the ceiling. And apparently he heard the bang and (knew that) something (was) wrong,” Johnston said.

There was a moment of silence at South Caldwell High School for Smith as students returned to school Monday morning. The winter athletic awards scheduled for Monday night have been postponed.

Smith was a member of both the wrestling and track teams. His teammates are making a memorial banner for his family.

"It is extremely tough on the children. When you have someone who is one of your peers who is involved in a situation that is this horrific, it's heartbreaking, and we knew we'd have upset children here today,” Libby Brown of Caldwell County Schools said.

Deputies said they are still trying to determine how the teenager got the weapon.

They said the case is a reminder to everyone about the importance of gun safety. 

"Make sure that parents understand to secure those weapons, because if the kids are very small or in their teens, they could still get those weapons and hurt somebody as well as themselves,” Caldwell County Sheriff Alan Jones said.

Deputies said they still have more interviews to do in the case. Once their investigation is complete, they will forward it to the district attorney’s office.

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