Father says son's death is warning to others

Matthew Morton (Image courtesy family)
April 18, 2012 2:18:35 PM PDT
A Person County teenager is dead after his family said a gun he was handling went off accidentally.

It happened Sunday in Timberlake. Seventeen-year-old Matthew Morton's father told ABC11 Monday that he's devastated by what happened.

"You could not spend five minutes with Matthew and not love him," said Hugh Morton. "Young people, maybe they just haven't lived long enough to know how easy it can go away. I'm here to tell you, it can go away. You're not promised your next breath."

Investigators are still piecing together what happened.

"We heard a pop," said Morton.

Morton ran to help his son, but it was too late. He said the boy was an avid hunter and no stranger to weapons.

"He's always fascinated with guns," said Morton.

Morton said that's why he always kept guns and ammunition in their home locked away. But somehow, the teen obtained a small handgun.

"This is someone else who was not responsible with their weapon. He got his hands on it. That's how he ended up dead," said Morton.

Morton believes his son's tragic death could've been prevented, but now he wants his loss to be a lesson to other gun owners.

"Never leave children access to weapons. There's a reason that you have to be 18 to own a gun," said Morton.

Matthew Morton also leaves behind two siblings and a family who never imagined his life would be cut short.

"We don't have any insurance," said Morton. "I have no way to pay for the burial."

A few local churches and people in the community have offered to help, but the family needs more. Investigators were continuing to looking into the shooting and were waiting for the results of an autopsy.

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