Maries R-1 youth dies of self-inflicted gun shot; death ruled ‘accidental’

Posted 4/28/21

VIENNA — Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman on Tuesday released a statement ruling the April 7 death of 14-year-old Gavin Sharp as accidental.

“After a detailed investigation, the …

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Maries R-1 youth dies of self-inflicted gun shot; death ruled ‘accidental’

Posted

VIENNA — Maries County Sheriff Chris Heitman on Tuesday released a statement ruling the April 7 death of 14-year-old Gavin Sharp as accidental.

“After a detailed investigation, the Maries County Sheriff’s Office and Coroner’s Office has ruled the death of Gavin Sharp an accidental shooting,” Heitman said in a prepared release. “This investigation was coordinated with other juvenile authorities.”

When asked why the sheriff’s department waited to make a comment until April 27 about the incident, Heitman said it was out of caution.

“We wanted to make sure we got the medical examiner’s report back before we said something, just in case it conflicted with what we thought happened,” said Major Scott John with the sheriff’s department.

Heitman added, “We reviewed the investigation with juvenile authorities before making a final determination.”

According to the sheriff’s report, a call for a gunshot victim came in at 6:53 p.m. on April 7 at the residence on the 20000 block of Highway 28 in Dixon. A family member had discovered the youth. 

A .9 mm handgun was located on scene.

While at first the incident was thought a suicide, other evidence reported revealed that the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head was an accident. He was declared deceased on the scene by the on-call doctor from Boone Hospital Center in Columbia.

“While handling what we believe he thought was an unloaded firearm, he accidentally shot himself,” John said.

“We have reasons to believe — we have evidence to believe — he thought it was unloaded,” Heitman added. “We offer our condolences to the family and friends of this young man.”

Maries County Coroner David Martin said programs are being planned to help prevent accidents of this nature from happening. 

“All involved in this extremely emotional investigation offer their sincere condolences to the family and friends of this young man,” Martin said. 

The 14-year-old died at his home near Dixon.

He was an eighth-grader in the Maries County R-1 School District in Vienna. At funeral services last week, the community gave an outpouring of sympathy for the youth’s family and friends.

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