The tiny town of Breckenridge, MO, is mourning the loss of a 12-year-old boy after a terrible accident with a gun.
In a town of just 450 people, like Breckenridge, the school is so often an anchor for the community.
That has been the case at in Breckenridge R-I School District, located about 75 miles northeast of Kansas City, housing about 100 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
Staff opened the doors at the school Sunday for any children who needed help from pastors and counselors on hand to deal with the death of Steven Curtis.
"We had the building open from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. We had the staff here to just talk with the kids. To be here for the kids. We had a group of about 25-30 kids. A core of that group about 15 kids stayed here most of the time," superintendent Brent Skinner said.
Steven's mother, Kathy Curtis, said what happened inside the family's home on West Maple Street about 8:45 p.m. Friday was a tragedy for her family and, above all, an accident.
The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said only that Steven mishandled a handgun and shot himself.
He was flown by helicopter to University of Kansas Medical Center where he died Saturday.
The Sheriff's Office is still investigating, but Steven's mother said her son, who loved to play football, was also an avid outdoorsman.
He loved to hunt and grew up learning about gun safety. He also had a hunter's safety certification.
"At Breckenridge and at a lot of small rural schools, we have had hunter safety as a part of our ag curriculum, junior high ag classes. In districts I've worked in before, we've even had hunter safety on Saturdays with the help of the conservation department on that," Skinner said.
Kathy Curtis doesn't know what went wrong Friday night, or even why her son even had the gun out.
There were several people over at the family's home Sunday evening, including two other teenage siblings. They are all supporting each other and beginning the grieving process.
They are all supporting each other and beginning the grieving process. And that will have to happen in the school district in the small tight-knit community too.
Skinner actually had Steven as one of his students this year.
"Just an all-around good kid. Always seemed to be happy, always kind of had an ornery smirk on his face. Just a freckled face, curly haired boy … typical seventh grade boy interested in hunting and fishing and having fun," Skinner said.
Skinner said some local churches are also helping with counseling. There will be counselors on hand Monday at the school to help the students and likely some after-hours help for adults in the community who may need some support dealing with the loss.
Investigators say the case is ongoing, and they haven't determined whether charges will be filed.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Friday, May 24 2013 4:38 AM EDT2013-05-24 08:38:10 GMT
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