TULLAHOMA, Tenn. (WTVF) — A single gunshot to the chest and a teenager kills his friend. The grieving mother of the victim wonders: Why?
One thing she does know is gun violence among kids is escalating at a horrible cost and she has a warning for parents: Shooting deaths involving kids no longer happen in the big city.
"I never in a million years thought I would get a phone call saying my son was shot," said Christie Kimbril.
Kimbril is not naive. Like you, she's heard the stories of teens caught with guns. But, she and her son Brandon McGee - who Kimbril adopted at age five - lived away from the big city, in Tullahoma.
Perhaps that gave a false sense of security.
"It can happen anywhere. Now I see that because it happened to my child," Kimbril said.
Police say McGee was shot in the chest last month in the parking lot of an apartment complex. It wasn't a drug deal or robbery. The shooting happened in the middle of the day and McGee was shot point-blank in the chest by a 16-year-old boy with a 9-millimeter handgun.
"From my understanding they were friends. I don't understand. I just want to know why?" Kimbril said.
Witnesses said it started with an argument that simply escalated.
There was a time when punches might have been thrown. But, instead, the 16-year-old had a gun and decided to use it.
In the split second where he pulled the trigger, that young suspect ended one life and changed so many others.
"That's not how you solve problems. Why do they feel they have to gun somebody down," said Kimbril.
Coffee County Sheriff Chad Partin thinks teens these days have no fear of consequences.
"They don't think and have no fear of death or pain and in their minds, they think they are playing a video game," Partin said.
It doesn't really matter where they live. Consider all the guns confiscated by Metro police out of Nashville. They are the high-powered weapons taken from kids - some found hidden in stuffed animals.
Sheriff Partin hasn't seen that in Tullahoma, but his deputies have taken plenty of guns from teens who are more than willing to use them.
It seems McGee had a simple disagreement with a friend and was shot. Partin said it didn't used to happen that way.
"We would all like to live in Andy Griffith's Mayberry world again, but, unfortunately, we are not there," Partin said.
The 16-year-old suspect in this case goes to court later this month. He is charged with first-degree murder and prosecutors say they will ask the teen be transferred to adult court.
If convicted he faces life in prison.