LITHIA, Fla. — A 15-year-old died after being found shot in a home Friday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
During a press conference, HCSO said the shooting happened shortly after 4 p.m. in a Tampa police officer's home located on Bridgewalk Drive in Lithia.
Deputies said the 15-year-old was inside the home with three other teens, whose ages range from 15 to 16, when he was shot in his upper body. They also said the Tampa officer was working at the time of the incident.
EMS transported the teen, who deputies said is not related to the Tampa officer, to Brandon Regional Hospital where he died.
"This incident is devastating, and as a father, I grieve with the parents who won't get to hug their son tonight, as well as the law enforcement officer and his family who live in the home where this tragedy occurred," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "As we enter the holiday season and more people have young visitors in their homes, please take the time to make sure your firearms are properly secured, ensure that they are not loaded, and most importantly, teach young people that guns are not toys. These simple steps could help save a life and save another family from heartbreak."
While it is unknown if the shooting was accidental, deputies are working to learn how the shooting occurred and how the teens got the gun.
No one is facing charges, at this time.
The State Attorney's Office says it has identified additional investigative steps that are necessary before making any decisions about charges, and those steps are underway. They say this may include identifying and interviewing new witnesses, re-interviewing existing witnesses, obtaining supplementary documentation, or seeking physical or forensic evidence.
The State Attorney says it is difficult to put a timetable on how long the investigation will take, especially when considering the possibility of uncooperative witnesses and the potential need to compel evidence through subpoenas or other judicial processes.
"This office is committed to transparency, and as always, we will fulfill our commitment by providing whatever information we can about a pending matter without compromising the integrity of an investigation, while respecting the privacy of victims and safeguarding the constitutional rights of all involved," the SAO said. "Furthermore, in this matter, we will continue to update the victim’s family as our search for the truth continues. We cannot thank the family enough for the strength, patience, and grace they have demonstrated throughout this unspeakable tragedy."
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