A 12-year-old boy died Saturday after accidentally shooting himself with a gun that a friend brought to a sleepover at his home in Southern California, police said Tuesday.
Authorities are still investigating how the 15-year-old friend, whose name was withheld, came into possession of the firearm, the Chula Vista Police Department said in a news release. He has been questioned by investigators. Police are looking into the identity of the gun’s owner.
Police said the victim, identified by his family as Max Mendoza, was shot inside his home at a condominium complex.
“Sometime during the sleepover, it appears the victim was given access to the firearm while inside the residence and then accidentally shot himself. The victim was then moved outside by family members where he was located by officers,” the statement said.
Officers and paramedics attempted lifesaving measures on the boy before taking him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the statement said.
“He was dearly loved by his family, friends and teachers,” a GoFundMe page raising money for Max’s funeral expenses said. “Max was a truly special guy. He was charming and funny. He had a heart twice the size of the average kid.”
“He was always willing to share whatever little he had with his classmates even if they weren’t his closest friends. Max was a kind hearted kid. He was willing to step up and help anyone at any time.”
Max was remembered by family and neighbors as a kind and caring young boy. His sister told CBS 8 San Diego that “he had so much to live for. He still had his whole life ahead of him.”
“The whole neighborhood cried because he’s so special,” a neighbor told the Los Angeles Times. “It hurts that he’s gone. He was taken from us too soon.”