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Minister shares memories of Nashville teen killed in accidental shooting

(Submitted to Fox 17 News)

Shocking new details on the number of young people killed in Nashville this year as gunfire took the life of a 15-year-old boy on Wednesday night.

Metro Police said that five children or teens, ages 17 years old or younger, have been homicide victims in Nashville so far this year. It's only February, and that’s already 1/3 of all of last year’s youth homicides.

When looking at 15-year-old Jeremiah Shelton’s big smile in his freshman year pictures, it’s difficult knowing he cannot finish the school year.

Shelton died after he was shot in an East Nashville apartment on Wednesday. Metro police said the 19-year-old gunman, Joshua Hockett, claimed it had been an accident and he was playing with the gun when it fired.

Shelton's death crushed Russ King. King is a minister at Donelson Church of Christ and said he mentored Shelton in elementary school.

“The guidance counselor said we wish we could find somebody to really connect with Jeremiah,” King said. “And so I kind of took him under my wing and we'd get together once a week after school and shoot basketball or take a walk and talk, eat hamburgers and drink milkshakes.”

King got emotional describing the child he said had so much potential.

“He was just a precious little boy full of life and hope and optimism,” Shelton said.

Over at Whites Creek High School, there is counseling for Shelton’s classmates and teachers. Principal James Bailey said this kind of tragedy has become the norm for their students.

“We are here for them,” Bailey said. “We're a listening ear. We want to help them think through before they make the decision to do something wrong. We want to be proactive instead of reactive because often times when we get to violence and when police are involved, it's after the fact.”

“We don't know all the details surrounding his death,” King said. “And it ultimately really doesn't matter because the bottom line is a precious young man is gone. And it's becoming so commonplace in Nashville.”

There is a vigil for Jeremiah Shelton scheduled for Friday night at Berkshire Place Apartments in East Nashville.

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