A Hockley County family is finalizing funeral arrangements for 10-year-old Chance Lightner. Investigators tell us Chance and his 11-year-old brother found a gun at the family's home outside of Levelland. The 11-year-old was holding the gun when it when off, hitting Chance in the side.
EMS took him to Covenant Hospital in Levelland. From there he was rushed to Lubbock where he died at University Medical Center. The Hockley County Sheriff calls this a tragic accident, and as the family deals with this loss they say they will always remember Chance as a peace keeper.
"He was just that way, anything to keep peace in the family," Jerilyn Austin said.
Austin says her grandson Chance loved animals. They Smyer student had two rabbits, a dog and a horse. He also loved to ride his bike, and enjoyed going to church with his parents and grandmother.
"Last night, when that happened, he told his mother to come there. He wanted to give her a kiss, and he kissed her. He said, mother, I want Jesus here, and she said, 'Jesus is right here; he's right here with you, and he said mother, I see Jesus. I see Jesus, and those were the last words he said before they took him to the hospital," Austin said.
Hockley County Sheriff David Kinney tells us the call came in around 11 p.m. Monday. He says Chance and his 11-year-old brother found the gun in their oldest brother's room, who's 13.
"The weapon, we found out the 13-year-old had taken the weapon about three months ago from his grandpa's house in Lubbock, without the grandpa's permission and knowledge. Right now, we're still investigation the whereabouts and how the gun came into play," Kinney said.
Kinney says this tragedy is not only hard for the family; it's also difficult for first responders.
"It's a shock to your system to have to deal with these. It's bad enough a child is killed, but when a child is killed by another child, accidentally, by a firearm that should have never been out in the first place, it just really bothers you," Kinney said.
He stressed the importance of gun safety, including education and gun locks.
"If we could save one kid by locking up a gun it would sure be worth it," Kinney said.
Now, as Chance's family deals with this sudden loss, his grandmother says she knows her little peace maker is watching over them.
"He was very loved; everybody loved him. He had a lot of friends and a lot of family. He was very loved," Austin said.
Sheriff Kinney wants everyone to know they can pick up a free gun lock at his office, and he says they should be available at other sheriff's offices across the South Plains. They are easy to use, and when used properly they won't allow a gun to fire.
Family members of Chance Lightner have set up a memorial fund to help with funeral expenses. Donations can be made at any branch of City Bank.
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