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11-year-old boy's shooting death apparently accidental

April 09, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A shot that a Berkeley County boy fired Thursday night, ending his life, was an apparent accident, authorities said Friday.

"It appears to be an accident, no intent of suicide," Berkeley County Medical Examiner Donald Shirley said Friday.

Shirley handled the death and arranged for an autopsy to be performed in Morgantown, W.Va.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely would only say Friday that the child's death "absolutely was not a homicide."

The child was found dead Thursday night at an apartment in the 600 block of Faulkner Avenue near Winchester Avenue Elementary School, according to police.

Officers from the Martinsburg Police Department and medical personnel from the Martinsburg Fire Department were dispatched to the residence at 9:10 p.m., according to a news release.

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The boy's older sister was at the apartment when the shooting occurred, Games-Neely said. The boy did not live in the apartment, but neighbors said Friday that he frequently stayed there with siblings. A semiautomatic .45-caliber pistol was found in the boy's hand, according to police.

According to initial indications, the weapon was placed in the home by a third party, Games-Neely said.

Investigating officers collected evidence at the scene and were awaiting findings from the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

There were other people in the apartment at the time of the shooting, and they have been interviewed by police, according to the news release.

The Berkeley County Schools crisis team will be at the boy's school Monday when students return from spring break, according to Jaimee Borger, the school district's communications director. Borger and police did not disclose what school the boy attended.

Dana Rickard, who moved out of a neighboring apartment Tuesday, found a flower bouquet in the yard when she returned Friday to see if any of her mail was delivered there.

No one answered when Rickard knocked on the apartment door.

"They all played out here all the time," Rickard said of her children's friendship with the boy. "It's so sad."

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