Family of teen shot by friend: 'Our hearts are broken'

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- The family of a 13-year-old boy killed by his friend in what appeared to be an accidental shooting Thursday night in Puyallup has released a statement memorializing the victim and calling on politicians to do something about gun violence in the United States.

According to the Puyallup Police Department, the deceased teen -- identified as Eddie Holmes of Puyallup -- was at a friend's house with four other boys when the friend took an unsecured shotgun out of the master bedroom to show them.

The boy handed the gun to another friend, and that's when Holmes was shot in the chest, according to police. One of the boys attempted to give medical aid to Holmes while another boy called 911.

Holmes was taken to Tacoma General Hospital, where he died from his wounds.

The shooting shocked the community.

"How that gun comes out - I don't know," said neighbor Clint Armatis. "But for them to actually grab it and pull the trigger and point it - that blows me away at that age."

Armatis said he is now using the unintentional shooting to educate his own grandchildren about gun safety.

"I told them, again, that you never touch a gun, you never touch a gun and never point one even if it's a toy gun you shouldn't be pointing it," he said.

On Friday, Holmes' family released the following statement:

"Our hearts are broken at the tragic loss of our dear Eddie Zee. Life is a gift from God, and we thank Him for each day he blessed us with Eddie Zee.

Eddie was a wonderful son -- very loving and caring. He enjoyed being with his big brother Jose, his dog Buddy, and playing video games.

Our prayers are with the families that are also involved. Legislators need to pass a law against gun violence in America. Our prayers are also with all families that have lost a loved one by gun violence.

We would like to thank the Puyallup Police Department for their support and everyone who have prayed and/or called to lift us up."

The 13-year-old shooter was arrested and booked into Pierce County Juvenile Detention for investigation of manslaughter.

The judge ordered the boy held until Tuesday so prosecutors can straighten out the details.

"It's a very very, sad and difficult case. But it's one - again, in all fairness - you have to look at the conduct and see whether or not it justifies the filing of charges," Deputy prosecuting attorney Kevin Benton said.

Chris Ohnemus, co-owner of Pinto's Gun Shop in Renton, said education and common sense are keys to avoiding similar tragedies. He's one of 15 retailers in the Seattle area working with public health officials on a "Lok-It-Up" campaign to educate people about safe storage of guns.

"Guns should not be a mystery. If they're in the house they should understand them. They should know how they function and they should know their capabilities," said Ohnemus.

Public health officials estimate more than 30,000 homes in King County are storing firearms that are loaded and unlocked. While those numbers may seem alarming, officials say the majority of gun owners do practice safe storage.

"The conscientious gun owners that are enthusiasts, that utilize their guns on a regular basis, are typically far more aware of safety issues," said Ohnemus.

As part of King County's "Lok-It-Up" program anyone who buys a storage device or lock box will get 10-15 percent off their purchase at the participating stores. The promotion lasts through December.