A game of Russian roulette turned deadly in a Pennsylvania small town and took the life of 15-year-old Neal Hammond. Hammond was at a home in the rural Everett area when a gun was passed around and the sleepover took a tragic turn, according to Fox News.
An unnamed boy brought a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and two bullets to the sleepover at the home of fellow high school sophomore, Cole McConoughey, where Neal Hammond was also staying. The gun was left in a drawer in the McConoughey basement until around midnight when Cole McConoughey allegedly removed the weapon from the drawer and loaded the weapon.
The teenager reportedly “spun the revolver’s cylinder” loading and unloading the bullets as he went. Cole McConoughey allegedly joked about playing Russian roulette and pointed the gun around the basement. A few moments after the loaded .38 caliber Smith and Wesson was pointed around the room, Cole McConoughey allegedly squeezed the trigger, believing it would just make an empty clicking noise. Instead of clicking past an empty chamber, Cole McConoughey fired a bullet into Neal Hammond’s right temple. Hammond was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead the following morning.
“Cole has been in our hearts since this happened because he and my son were very, very close. I know it’s been weighing on him heavily and we’ve been praying for him everyday. Cole’s pain has been a burden on us since the day it happened. My wife and I have been praying for that poor boy. I don’t want to see him face any jail time,” Neal Hammond’s father Scott Hammond, who works for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Juvenile Justice Services, told Fox News.
Bedford, Pennsylvania District Attorney Bill Higgins does not believe any “animosity or ill will” prompted the deadly game of Russian roulette which caused Neal Hammond’s shooting. The teen boy who brought the .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver to the sleeper faces yet unknown charges. Cole McConoughey was initially charged as an adult with aggravated assault for the shooting of Neal Hammond, but the charges will be upgraded to homicide, the Altoona Mirror reports.
Cole McConoughey’s attorney and Neal Hammond’s father both want the case to be transferred to juvenile court. The alleged shooter was released on bail and will make his first court appearance early next month.
Scott Hammond declined to “paint firearms as the villain,” according to Fox News. “I know this kid could get help in a juvenile facility. I don’t think he’ll get the help he needs in an adult facility. I don’t really blame anybody, it was a freak accident. I don’t have any hard feelings toward either youth or anybody. It was just an accident,” Hammond told the Altoona Mirror.
Before the basement game of Russian roulette took his life, Neal Hammond was an accomplished football player and wrestler at Everett Area High School and attended the First Christian Church. Scott and Georgina Hammond are reportedly relying on their faith to help them deal with what they term the “freak accident” which killed their son.