An entire community and county is in mourning after a 12-year-old accidentally shot and killed himself with a handgun late Tuesday night at his parents’ house on County Road 3504 near Lake Bridgeport.
According to investigators, Grayson C. Garrett gained access into his parents’ gun safe around 11 p.m. His parents and older brother were already in bed.
A gunshot awoke the family. His father rushed into the living room to discover Garrett suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. His father, Lake Bridgeport Fire Chief Willie Garrett, attempted CPR but was unsuccessful.
“It’s a horrible, horrible accident,” said Sheriff David Walker. “We don’t have any evidence to cause us to believe this was anything other than an accident.”
“He’d taken out the gun and was messing with it,” said Chief Deputy Doug Whitehead. “The clip had been taken out, and he didn’t realize there was a round in the chamber.”
It’s the type of accident that could happen to almost any family.
“Like a lot of people around here, they had guns in the house,” Whitehead said. “They kept them in a safer place than a lot of people. A lot of people stick guns between mattresses or just wrapped up in something in the back of a closet.”
“It could happen to anybody,” Walker echoed.
As a fire chief, Garrett is used to showing up at the scenes of accidents, fires and medical emergencies to help others. This time he was the one in need.
“In Wise County, this is a personal thing,” Walker said. “(Garrett) knew the emergency responders that showed up as his house. That helps. The family will have a much needed support system to help them.”
Grayson would have been a seventh grader at Bridgeport Middle School.
“I got the privilege to get to know Grayson last spring when I took over as principal here,” said middle school principal Travis Whisenant. “His family is very involved in the community. He was a terrific young man, and this is a devastating loss to all of us.”
Whisenant said there will be additional counselors on hand when students start the school year Thursday.
“This is going to be a tough time for the family and for all the school kids that were friends with Grayson,” Walker said.
A scholarship fund has been established in memory of Grayson. Donations can be made at The Community Bank in Bridgeport.