Newsome High grad Taylor McKenna dies after firing gun he thought was unloaded

5:40 PM, Apr 26, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Teen dies after firing gun he thought was unloaded


TAMPA, Florida -  Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies say a 19-year-old man died when he fired a round on a handgun that was being passed around by friends in a house in Lithia.

Deputies say Taylor J. McKenna was playing video games and socializing with friends early Thursday when someone showed an unloaded handgun to the group.

According to deputies, McKenna didn't realize that someone loaded the gun when he picked it up and fired one round. It struck him in the head, killing him.

According to the Hillsborough County School District, McKenna graduated from Newsome High School in 2011.

Detectives are calling the incident at the Bryant Road home an accident. Deputies say the parents were out of town, but no alcohol or drugs appear to be involved.

"It was just carelessness," said Sheriff's Office spokesperson Larry McKinnon.

Detectives are continuing to interview witnesses and process the scene. McKenna's body has been taken to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office for an autopsy.

Neighbors say McKenna was a "nice kid," who they would see out mowing the lawn or playing paint ball.

"He would set up his targets out there and he was really having a good time with it, especially on the weekends," said Jacqueline Van Vliet.

McKinnon says the incident should serve as a reminder for parents and all gun owners.

"There's two golden rules you can't break when handling firearms.  Number one is that you assume they are always loaded.  And number two, keep them pointed in a safe direction," he explained.

Two things, investigators say, that would have saved a young man's life.

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