The incident occurred after Deleon Alonso Smith found a gun in the Forum Park apartment complex and decided to take pictures of him and his cousin posing with it. Smith was posting photos to social media when he victim accidentally shot himself, the gun blast hitting him in the throat. His cousin was in another room at the time of the incident.
The victim's grandmother, Alma Douglas, shared that the teen was due to start community college the very next day:
"It's a numb feeling. It's like still unbelievable. Yesterday was my birthday. He came to wish me a happy birthday. And to hear this kind of news."
The victim's grieving uncle, Eric Douglas, said that this was "the worst feeling of my life."
Even more tragically, the victim was a young father to two little girls, aged one and three. Not only has one young life been lost, but two others have also been immeasurably altered.
The police investigating the case have taken the cell phone as part of their investigation. There's no word yet as to who may have owned the gun.
Let this tragedy be a reminder of two things:
- No photograph, no amount of temporary social media approval, is worth the risk. Yet more and more young people die in pursuit of the perfect selfie as days go by.
- We need better policies in order to prevent guns from falling into untrained hands. And certainly we need to do something about the common notion that guns are "cool." Guns are, at best, a tool for protection—but only in capable and lawful hands and only when used sparingly. At worst, they're anathema to a safe society. But they are never accessories to be used to bolster one's social image.
Read more: Your Selfie Obsession Can Kill You