Shooting death raises questions about gun safety

Puyallup: Teenager killed by loaded gun that was not secured, police say

of the HeraldFebruary 12, 2014 

A seventh-grader at Kalles Junior High School was shot and killed Thursday afternoon in an incident the Puyallup Police Department is investigating as an accident.

Eddie Holmes, 13, was with four of his friends after school. A boy who lived at the home brought out a shotgun from the master bedroom. He gave it to one boy, and shortly thereafter, the weapon fired. Holmes was hit in the chest and died later that day at Tacoma General Hospital.

The 13-year-old boy who allegedly shot Holmes was booked into the Pierce County Juvenile Detention center for one count of first-degree manslaughter. The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case to determine additional charges.

Kalles Principal Guy Kovacs sent a letter to parents on Friday, promising the school district would take necessary actions to ensure teachers, staff members and students would have access to counseling. In addition to the three counselors at Kalles, the district brought in four from other schools, Kovacs said.

“Students who felt the need were able to visit with a counselor at school today,” Kovacs wrote. “Teachers read a statement at the beginning of first period, and those teachers played an active role in identifying any students having trouble dealing with the emotions surrounding this loss.”

Kovacs affirmed the importance of maintaining a daily routine that school provides.

“We encourage all students to attend school to be with their teachers and friends, as well as keep up with their studies,” Kovacs wrote. “Please be assured that the staff members at Kalles Junior High School will do all that we can in helping your child cope with this tragedy.”

Puyallup Police Capt. Scott Engle said the accident is a reminder of how important gun safety is.

“Make sure that the weapon is secure in a locker or in a gun lock,” he said.

An average of eight children and teenagers younger than 20 are killed by guns every day, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. A gun in a home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense, the document states.

The weapon in the Puyallup residence was loaded and not secured. No adults were present at the time of the shooting, according to police.

Engle said parents should maintain good communication with their children about making good choices.

“It’s important knowing what your kids are up to, having good communication with your child, so when they’re out and about, they make good choices,” Engle said. “It’s always important to know the families that your children associate with, have good communication with them. Always introduce yourself to their friends. Know about the situation and the environment so you can be comfortable with your child being in that environment.”

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