Detectives in Portage County believe 15-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed 11-year-old cousin

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Detectives in Portage County believe a 15-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his younger cousin while playing with a gun inside a home in Franklin Township.

"I have nothing to indicate that it was an intentional act, nothing to indicate that whatsoever," said Lt. Gregory Johnson.

The shooting happened Wednesday morning inside a home on Johnson Road. The boys were home from school because of a snow day.

Johnson said the older boy knew where to find a gun, which wasn't secured, in a bedroom.

The investigation revealed that each boy handled the gun, but it discharged in the hands of the 15-year-old, and one bullet struck 11-year-old Ashton Nicholson. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The older brother of the suspected shooter called 9-1-1, and told the operator he was in the bathroom when he heard a gunshot.

"My brother just shot my cousin on accident... Oh my God, he shot him with a pistol," he told the dispatcher.

Investigators said the 15-year-old cooperated and was very mature during questioning.

"This is a terrible tragedy that he was involved in, but I have to give him credit for standing up," Johnson said.

Nicholson, who also lived on Johnson Road, was a student at Stanton Middle School in Kent.

Joseph Giancola, superintendent of Kent Schools, said Nicholson was very popular and a good student. He also said a crisis intervention team was at the school Thursday to help kids cope with the tragedy.

The parents were not home when the shooting happened around 11:30 a.m. Johnson said they could face charges since the gun was not secured. He indicated that all of the evidence collected will be turned over to the Portage County Prosecutor's Office.

"They will look at everything. They'll take everything into consideration."

Johnson hopes the tragic case reminds all parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of playing with guns. He believes video games have desensitized kids.

"On the video game, there's a reset button. In real life, there isn't," Johnson said.

He also urged all gun owners to take precautions by using gun locks or by locking firearms in safes.

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