TARBORO - A 12-year-old boy was shot and killed in a Wake Forest hunting accident Friday morning, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison reported.
A 911 operator took a call from James Lee Parker's distraught father just after 7:30 a.m.
"My son is dead," he said through tears.
It happened near Bent Road and Colombard Court in the Falls Lake Recreation Area.
Harrison said Parker - of Jeremy Lane in Tarboro - was hunting deer with three other people when it happened. Family later told NewsChannel 12 he was hunting with his father, uncle and cousin.
Parker was shot in the upper torso. Harrison said the investigation into how it happened was ongoing.
James' great uncle, David Holloman, said the group had just killed a deer and were pulling it in when another deer came up in front of them.
James' uncle, Jason Matthews Harper, went to reload his shotgun and it accidentally went off, fatally shooting James in the chest.
Holloman described how he felt when he got the call.
"[I was] devastated. Um, I couldn't even really believe it to start with. It was just unbearable that your 12-year-old nephew would get killed doing something he loved to do. It was kinda strange, just weird. Okay that's enough," Holloman said.
Holloman said James was a great child with a passion for anything outdoors.
"He was daddy's little boy you understand. He does what daddy does. And daddy loved to hunt and he tagged along when he was 4-years-old," Holloman said.
However, it was his love for the outdoors that ended up costing him his life.
"He loved to hunt and he died that way. I believe that's the way he would want to go if he was going to go. I guess God had plans for him and he's up in heaven now," he said.
Holloman said while he doesn't blame James' uncle, he feels like this situation could have been avoided.
"I mean anybody that want to mess with a shotgun should have it away from people. Have it pointed down or something if they going to mess with a shotgun while a bunch of people are around. [But] it's an accident there's nothing you can do about it and I don't feel no hard feelings toward the person who done it. It's just an accident," Holloman said.
North Carolina Wildlife spoke with the investigating officer late Friday afternoon. They were told the uncle fired a single shot with a 12 gauge shotgun. North Carolina Wildlife said Mr. Harper improperly acquired a hunting license and had not taken the hunting education course as is required by the state of North Carolina.
The investigation is ongoing and Harper could face criminal charges.
An emotional time for a family just beginning to heal.
"It's heartbreaking. It really is," Holloman said.
Sheriff Harrison said 12-year-olds can hunt if they're accompanied by an adult. As they're out of school, the Christmas holidays are often a time when young people go out with their families to get their first deer.
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