A Missouri teenager accidentally shot and killed himself while attempting to take a selfie with a loaded gun, police said Tuesday.
DaMontez Jones, 15, later died at an Overland hospital of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Local police were working to piece together the events that led up to the boy’s tragic death.
The shooting incident occurred around 7:30 p.m. Friday at a home the teen’s mother shares with her fiancé, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Authorities said two older brothers and a younger half-sibling were in the home alone when the fatal incident took place. The older siblings told their father DaMontez was trying to snap a photo when the gun discharged.
”We’re pretty solid in that theory but will go the extra mile to see if there are pictures there,” said Overland police Lt. Steve Branham.
Branham said a cellphone was recovered laying next to the victim. Officials were unable to access the image database and sent the device to a lab for further processing.
DaMontez, who was just starting his summer vacation from Ritenour High School, reportedly found the gun unsecured on the top shelf of a bedroom closet. The safety lock was disengaged.
His father, Dennis Jones Sr., said the gun belonged to the mother’s fiancé, though investigators have not confirmed ownership with relatives.
The incident raises the importance of gun safes, especially in homes with children.
Federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that an average of 62 children aged 14 and under died of unintentional shootings yearly between 2007 and 2011. This makes children in the U.S. 16 times more likely to die of accidental shootings than those in other developed countries.
Even these numbers are conservative, according to an analysis by Everytown, an independent non-profit dedicated to reducing gun violence in America.
Their findings revealed that from December 2012 to December 2013, at least 100 children were killed in accidental shootings, which works out to almost two per week.
Almost two-thirds of the accidental deaths occurred in a home or vehicle belonging to the victim’s family and most often with guns that were legally owned but not secured.
In addition, of the cases researchers had sufficient background information to properly analyze, over two-thirds of the deaths could have been prevented had gun owners safely stored their guns locked and away from the child’s reach.
Guns are increasingly becoming the dangerous accessory of choice for young people and adults alike sharing photos via social media.
In Houston, a 19-year-old accidentally killed himself while posing for selfies with a gun last September. Police said Deleon Alonso Smith was in his apartment when he shot himself in the throat with the loaded weapon his cousin said the men found earlier that day. The cousin told police Smith believed the gun was unloaded. He had two small children and was set to start classes at a local college the next day, KPRC reported.
The trend is not exclusive to the U.S.
India has the highest number of selfie fatalities than any other country over the last three years, according to stats released by Priceonomics earlier this year. Nineteen of the 49 worldwide deaths that occurred during that period took place in the South Asian country. Mumbai officials have designated 16 no-selfie zones around the nation’s financial capital in response.
Conde Nast Traveller reported last year more people died while taking a selfie than by shark attacks. “Through the end of 2015, there were six confirmed shark-related deaths. In those same twelve months, the number of selfie-related deaths reached at least 10. And those are just the ones easily tracked,” the magazine noted.
In Russia, the phenomenon of selfie-related deaths has become so widespread that police released a guide to taking safer selfies.