NASHVILLE, Ark. (AP) — JoAnn Caldwell came to Texarkana on Monday to plan her 14-year-old son's funeral, two days after he was killed in what police said was an accidental shooting at a friend's house in Nashville, Ark.
Kerk Caldwell Jr. died early Saturday at Howard Memorial Hospital, Nashville police said in a news release. He was shot about 1:31 a.m. at a residence in the 100 block of Seventh Street by a 15-year-old boy.
Caldwell said the bullet struck her son in the head. Kerk was staying the night at a friend's house along with another boy. Caldwell said she was told her son was lying in a bed getting ready to go to sleep, as was the other teen. She said the third teen, who lived at the house with his family, left the room briefly and came back holding a gun he found.
"My son and the other young man told him, 'You need to put that gun up,'" Caldwell said. She said her son even mentioned the possibility the weapon, which police described as a shotgun, could be loaded.
"He had the gun pointed toward them as he was trying to see if he had a bullet in it," Caldwell said of the boy holding the gun. "The trigger went off as he was trying to check to see. ... My son happened to raise up (from the bed) and the bullet grazed his forehead."
911 was called, and an ambulance took Kerk to the hospital, but Caldwell said no one told her what happened for 3 1/2 hours. She didn't get to see her son before he was pronounced dead. Caldwell works at the Firestone plant in Prescott and said a Prescott officer came by and told her to call Nashville police. It was then that an officer broke the news.
"He said, 'Your son has been in a shooting,' and I'm thinking, 'I know my son ain't shot nobody,'" recalled Caldwell. "He said, 'Your son was shot, and he didn't make it.'
"I just lost it."
Caldwell said she "screamed and hollered" as her supervisor drove her to the hospital. While she grieves for her son, Caldwell is also upset that a loaded gun was so easily accessible inside the house, and she said the family of the boy holding the gun has yet to reach out to her and express any sort of remorse.
"They shouldn't allow the guns to be where a child can go get it," she said. "Guns should be locked. Guns don't have no eyes; you've got to be more careful."
Caldwell said police have told her charges are not likely in the case. Her son's body has been sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock for an autopsy.
A Nashville police official said Monday no additional information on the case would be released by that department, although Arkansas State Police are also investigating.
Kerk was the youngest of Caldwell's three children and is survived by two sisters. Caldwell said her son was affectionate and told her he loved her often.
"I wouldn't want anybody to go through this. ... My heart just hurts, just aches," she said. "It's just aching right now."
Caldwell said she is speaking out because she wants people to know about her son and that his death could have been prevented.
"I'm not trying to hurt anyone else, because enough has been done," she said. "I just think it needs to be told: There's a child gone, a beautiful child.
"My child was beautiful."
©2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.