Christian Watkins, 16, Harmony, died due to injuries sustained after an accidental shooting incident Sunday, according to Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton. (See complete obituary, Page 2A).
The sheriff said Watkins was at home Sunday with two stepbrothers and his girlfriend when the incident occurred.
According to Heaton, Watkins was allegedly pulling the slide of a 45-calibur handgun back and forth and "dry firing" the weapon, something officials said he had done several times.
At some point, the magazine was reportedly placed in the weapon, and taken back out, which activated the weapon.
"For whatever reason, he put it to his head, pulled the trigger and the gun went off," Sheriff Heaton said.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. Sunday, officials responded to the residence. Although the incident is still officially under investigation by the Clay County Sheriff's Department and coroner's office, it appears the shooting will be deemed accidental.
Northview Principal Lynn Romas called Watkins a "popular young man" with many friends.
Romas added school counselors and local clergy offered spoke to students who needed comfort Monday morning in the school auditorium. Teachers also went to the Clay County Humane Society early in the morning to retrieve puppies and kittens for the students, to help with the healing process.
"He was a very good student," Romas said, adding Watkins participated in football and the band program.
In addition, he said a poster board and pen were placed in the auditorium where students could write messages for Watkins.
"We hope to give it to the parents," Romas said. "We hope to try to help the family as much as we can."
Watkins is the second NHS student to die tragically in the past three years. In 2009, students grieved over the death of then-freshman Halie Hite, who died in an automobile accident.
"It's rough on the school," Romas said. "But we hope to provide support for his friends."
"This is one of those tragic incidents when working with a firearm," Sheriff Heaton said. "It's a really tragic incident."