(WY) Teen dies in Russian roulette game


April 1, 2003, 10:40 PM
Teen dies in Russian roulette game

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A 14-year-old boy died Sunday after shooting himself while playing Russian roulette, according to police.

Evan Below, 14, shot himself in the head around 8 p.m. Saturday while playing with a .38-caliber revolver in the kitchen of a friend's house.

Evan's mother, Peggy Below, said she heard about what happened around 9 p.m. Saturday when she called the house to talk to her son and a policeman answered.

She said Evan had training and experience handling guns.

"My son is dead. And it bothers me that someone didn't have the responsibility to lock up their gun," she said.

Lt. Jack Branson said another boy, 15, handed the gun to Evan just before he shot himself. The other boy allegedly got the gun from under his mother's bedroom.

Joyce Leforte, the other boy's mother, said Monday that the gun was in her closet and was not locked up.

"We're very, very sorry for Evan's family," she said, sobbing. "We're there if they need us. I know what she's going through and our prayers are with the family."

Leforte and her husband, who own the gun, were bowling at the time of the shooting. No charges had been filed as of Monday.

"This has been very hard on both families," Branson said.

Police said two other boys were in the home, as was a 23-year-old man, who was in another part of the house and did not see what happened.

District Attorney Kevin Meenan said he will review the case after police finish their investigation.

"At this point I can't speculate about what charges or statutes, if any, are appropriate," he said. "The Police Department has orally briefed us on the case and they are in the process now of completing their investigation."

Walt Wilcox, principal of Dean Morgan Junior High School where Evan went to school, said in a prepared statement that counselors were at the school and would be available as long as they are needed. He urged parents to talk with their children about what happened.

"Please do not assume that because your son or daughter was not closely acquainted with Evan that they are not affected," he said.

He said several discussions have occurred on school grounds regarding safety, being a teenager and making good decisions.

"Nothing can change what happened; however, through discussion and clarification with parents and students, hopefully a tragedy like this can be avoided in the future," he said.

Funeral services for Evan were scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at Memorial Chapel Funeral Home.

In Russian roulette, one chamber of a revolver is loaded and a player risks his life to see if the bullet will fire when the trigger is pulled.

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April 1, 2003, 10:59 PM
Darwin? Ohhh Daaaarwiiiin :D

He said several discussions have occurred on school grounds regarding safety, being a teenager and making good decisions.

Boy, if only they would have that meeting before this tragedy :D ;) :p

April 1, 2003, 11:31 PM
unfortunately the gun owner would be charged since it's not locked up. good riddance of stupidity, ensuring his genes don't pass on.

Jesse H
April 1, 2003, 11:32 PM
She said Evan had training and experience handling guns.

"My son is dead. And it bothers me that someone didn't have the responsibility to lock up their gun," she said.


April 2, 2003, 01:12 AM
ummmm. How stupid can you be?!

Gee, let me pull the trigger, I got a one in six chance of dying, but what the hell. If you ask me, thats suicide.

What a moron.

April 2, 2003, 01:13 AM
Darwin is definitely calling.

How typical the mom wants to blame the gun owners.

How contradictory when juxtaposed against her statement about her son's familiarity with firearms.

The only logical inference here is stupidity. I knew enough at 14 not to play Russian Roulette, and my folks weren't "gun people."

If you think your kids have questionable judgement about firearms, make them watch "The Deer Hunter." Definitely would make any kid think twice about Russian roulette; the image stuck in my brain from around age 12.

Miss Demeanors
April 2, 2003, 01:20 AM
Although the kid is to blame, do you think some of the blame should be on the parent? Not pressing charges or anything, but would it be fair to say the parents are partially to blame for not locking it up?

This article hits close to home because I was in almost the exact situation 16 years ago. At my 'boyfriends' ' house with two other people, parents at a wedding, he was 16, the two boys played russian roulette, boyfriend shot himself in the head. Yeah it was his fault for being a complete idiot, but his Father was a Chicago Police Officer that KNEW his son was doing drugs and constantly getting into trouble. Personally, I think knowing he (the Father) was going to be out all night, and his Son was home alone planning on having friends over , he should have locked the up the gun. The kid was in a rehab a few times, brought down to the station often, few minor charges, etc. Just my $.02. :)

April 2, 2003, 01:36 AM
Not pressing charges or anything, but would it be fair to say the parents are partially to blame for not locking it up?


Most every boy I knew when I was that age had a .22, .30-30 or .410 shotgun of their own in their room.

April 2, 2003, 02:01 AM
My dad didn't lock up any of his firearms when I was growing up. It was only after I moved out that he bought a storage locker.

Hmm, now that I think about it, was he trying to accomplish something by not buying a safe until after I moved out?:scrutiny: :neener:

Admiral Thrawn
April 2, 2003, 04:39 AM
"ummmm. How stupid can you be?!

Gee, let me pull the trigger, I got a one in six chance of dying, but what the hell. If you ask me, thats suicide.

What a moron."

That pretty much sums up the whole incident. It's like jumping out of a plane without a parachute to "see" if you'll die... :rolleyes:

Apple a Day
April 2, 2003, 06:39 AM
Miss D,
I know this has to be an emotional issue for you but I would like to point out that for there to be blame then the individual would have had to have done something wrong IMO.
Could the parents have done more? Possibly. They could have locked up all the guns, knives, medicines, loose wires, cleaning solutions... Did they do something wrong by expecting some measure of responsibility on the part of their son? I don't think so. At some point IMHO people have to start taking responsibility for themselves. This kid was into trouble, took a gun which didn't belong to him, did something incredible reckless with it- ALL for which he knew better. He knew better and did it anyway. The responsibility lies on the kid rather than the parents.
Did the parents do something wrong by NOT coddling their kid, by trying to teach/allow him some responsibility? No. I am a teacher and deal with parents who attempt to remove their kid from any responsibility all the time. These are the kids who grow up to sue anything and everything when they, themselves, do something stupid. These are the kind of kids who grow up and give the rest of us a bad name. These are the kids of kids who grow up and blame the rest of the world for their problems and expect everyone else, through the machinations of the government, to pick up the tab to put food in their mouths and a roof over their heads. Wastrels for lack of a better term.
I am sorry for your loss but I haven't any sympathy for the kid... or the dead kid's parents who, in this case, are still trying to blame everyone else [see also: gun owners] for their kid's, and thereby their own failure.
[/rant] grades came out. I am now fielding gripes by such people and am in a foul mood. I had a kid like this in my room yesterday whining for 20 minutes, couldn't get rid of him. He pleaded personal problems but when I invited him to set up a parent-teacher conference so we could all discuss his problems he panicked. The kid just didn't turn in his assignments, still expected a good grade. I also got hugged by a kid who did well... even after I explained yet again that I just grade the papers and it was the kid who did the work. :scrutiny: There are good kids and bad kids.

April 2, 2003, 07:02 AM
The kid committed suicide, it's that simple. Anybody knows if you close your eyes and cross the street you WILL be killed eventually. THe gun owner wasn't responsible in any way. :(

April 2, 2003, 07:55 AM

I hear ya. My wife just started teaching about a month ago. She was TOLD by the school that she coul not fail any of her students this quarter/six-weeks. They base this on the fact that her students have had 6 other teachers this year, my wife being the 7th. Well, anyway, I made it a point to make the recommendation that she clearly state why the students are getting the passing grade this time, but NEXT quarter will be a different story. Florida schools really suck!!! I hope we can afford private school when we have kids.


April 2, 2003, 08:29 AM
I agree it wasn't the parents fault. What if he had locked up the gun? Would the kids have grabbed butcher knives and and played circus knife thrower?

Very sad. I drilled my kids hard on such scenarios.

April 2, 2003, 09:12 AM
Man, you guys are harsh and certainly not taking The High Road on this one. How do these comments look to folks trying to make up their mind about guns and gun owners. You don't look like the beacon of light for America you sometimes pretend to be, I'll tell you that much. And shame on you.

It's unfortunate that someone used a gun for its intended purpose and it worked. And Mrs. Below doesn't sound anti to me at all. Considering what just happened with her son, the fact that she was quoted as saying anything positive about firearms tells me that, at least at the time of the quote, she's fairly pro gun.

When I was growing up, I was around unlocked guns as I'm sure many other members were. Doesn't make this any less tragic. Silly yes, and certainly unfortunate. But not to poke fun at like has been done with this thread.

April 2, 2003, 09:29 AM
"Never speak ill of the dead..."

TFL Survivor

April 2, 2003, 09:46 AM
And how many teenagers kill themselves or someone else every day while driving mom or dad's car ...?

They really should keep those cars locked up. :rolleyes:

"Never speak ill of the dead..."
I'll try to find something nice to say about Hitler, then.

April 2, 2003, 09:50 AM
Like a moth to a flame ...

It's very sad. :(

April 2, 2003, 10:26 AM
Personally I do think the gun owner should be responsible for securing their firearms and or ammuntion while not in their direct control.

When you invite someone into your house you are responsible for their safety and if they happen to be an idiot you should still do what you can to keep them safe. Now if the kid had broken in then it would have been different as nobody asked the kid to come in but nowing that you may have invited guests in your home means that you should take a certain amount of responsibility to keep everybody in the house safe.

I don't think everybody needs to shell out 1000+ bucks for a safe but a simple lock on a drawer would have prevented this.

I know that the great majority of us and or our kids would be fine around firearms as we have had much training as have our family and friends but the cold reality of today's world is that most people do not have any education when it comes to firearms and this lack of education is dangerous to say the least.

I am all for culling the slow elks from the herd and letting Darwin happen but to be honest I don't know how I could live with myself if one of my firearms was ever used to injure or kill somebody because I did not take reasonable precautions to secure them when I or another responsible user like my wife is not around.

Do I think it should be a law that guns have integral locks? NO
Do I think there should be a law that you must have your guns locked up and unloaded? NO

Do I think you should be held reasponsible if one of your firearms is left easily accessible for someone else to find and use in an incorrect manner? YES.

Something as simple as locking it in a tool box could have prevented this.

Flame suit on.

By the way, it is very sad but let's face facts if a 14 year old kid doesn't quite grasp the physics of putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger then he is either clinically retarded or just plain stupid and would have probably found a way to get out of the gene pool on his own at some point anyway. I just don't like that he was given the means to do it by an irresponsible gun owner. Too much ammo for the antis, and what if our rocket scientist had fired off a round or two and they had killed the neighbors....and even worse outcome in my mind.

Just for the record I also place blame on the kids family if they did not raise him with any kind of gun safety which far too many parents do these days. Guns are bad is not gun safety.

Carlos Cabeza
April 2, 2003, 10:51 AM
Slinger, the kid was 14 not 4. I think that consequence for actions is completely understood at that age. The incident is definitely
tragic, but once again, common sense should dictate the outcome of such an irresponsible act. My heart goes out to the relatives of the unfortunate soul, but carelessness will always result in tragedy.

April 2, 2003, 11:07 AM
Do we even really know if the story is true? Did the boy shoot himself playing roulette, or did the other boy shoot him through his own stupidity and cooked up the story to save his own hindquarters?

I've thought that over many, many times, after the "accidental" death of my cousin. Did the shooter "really not see him in his line of fire" (they were out sniping snapping turtles at a pond), did the shooter do the stupid point-gun-at-head-and-BANG thing (like the other thread in this forum where dad pulls trigger at son and says, "Gee, I'm glad it wasn't loaded"), or were the boys really not friends?

Either way, stupidity is certainly involved.

Carlos Cabeza
April 2, 2003, 11:23 AM
We certainly can't rely on the accuracy of the media or the honesty of the people directly involved. Sorry to hear of your cousin Runt. I apologize if my previous post sounded insensitive.

April 2, 2003, 01:11 PM
Who is responsible for this, if the story is as stated? The boy. We all do stupid things as a youngins, but voluntarily pointing a loaded firearm at yourself and pulling the trigger is your fault, plain and simple. It is 100% his fault. He was old enough to know the results of shooting himself, no matter wether he has gun experience or not.

However... while I don't blame the gun owner, I do wonder at the advisability of leaving a loaded firearm unlocked in ones home if you know that your child may be bringing friends over who haven't proven their firearm respect and safety, especially if you may not be home. True, it is the boys parents fault if they didn't teach their son proper respect for firearms, it's the boys fault for being so stupid, it's maybe even his friends fault for helping him or even allowing him to do so in his presence with no interference.

What I see here isn't so much wiggle room for where to place the blame, as it is a debate on proper storage in different circumstances. Is it advisable to lock up firearms (while not present) if you know that unsafe teens may be freely coming into your home? Or should we consider 14 old enough to have enough common sense not to shoot yourself? I say 14 is old enough to have that common sense, but I personally would be locking it up just to be safe.

4v50 Gary
April 2, 2003, 01:25 PM
The kid had training and knew better, but was dumb enough to be talked into participating. No sympathy from me.

BTW, read in some old book that the Russians use to have another game called, "Meow." One player is the hunter and is armed with a revolver. Another player is designated as the "cat." The "cat" goes "meow" at which the "hunter" shoots at the sound. The "cat" as well as the other players try to scamper out of the way before they're hit. Those Rooskies must really have been bored and drunk to play.

Personally, I prefer more sedate entertainment like a good book.

April 2, 2003, 01:48 PM
I have to agree with the minority here.

If you have a potentially dangerous safety hazard in your house and someone hurts themselves because of it, you are partly responsible. A loaded and unlocked/unsecured firearm is just such a hazard.

Your firearms are fundamentally your responsibility. Not someone elses, yours. Remember that accountability and responsibility for consequences stuff we always preach? Well this is where it comes back around to you.

Many of the firearms being passed around illegally on the black market were stolen from lawful owners because they didn't secure them.

It doesn't require an expensive safe, a simple gun cabinet or a solid locked drawer would do it.

April 2, 2003, 01:52 PM
Stupid kid needed to be not-so-stupid and he would still be alive.

I read about this first on a post I saw on another forum I frequent. It's a tech support forum for some message board software I use and they happen to have a general area.

Most of the people there happen to be from England since that's where the software is made and let me say this: :banghead:


You can probably tell my posts. :D

April 2, 2003, 02:25 PM
Anytime I see a story like this I think of little kids raised in a child proof home. You know, where spare electrical outlets have those things in them so you can not insert a fork. Where cabinets have latches so they are not simple to pull open. Where hard sharp corners on coffee tables are evil and the best furniture is bean bag stuff.

As tamara mentioned, back years ago people grew up with guns. They used them and knew what they could do, this fosters respect for an item.

Now adays we have kids who grew up doing stupid reckless things because someone went around trying to protect the kid. As these kids grow older the parents keep finding things they did not protect the kid from. And unfortunately a lot of these parents don't have guns in the house so it is not like the kid was educated prior to this experience in a long term way.

The school of hard knocks will teach anyone. I think the school of hard knocks needs several years to instill some common sense. I am still attending.

But this coming group of kids and those after it never got near the school of hard knocks.

And as the parents of these kids are learning, it is better to start with small knocks on the head because the bigger ones will kill.

I see both sides of the argument. I don't think the parent should be punished though because then we are making the kid not responsable for his actions.

And if we start having to lock up all firearms not in our immediate possession, other things will follow. At some point I would get in trouble if a kid walked in my garage and stole some spray paint to huff, and died from it. The kid broke the law and then did something not right brite, but it would be my fault.

Of course I also feel if criminals were dealt with properly I would not need a car alarm on my vehicle. I would not need to protect my stuff with not only locks on all exterior doors but a gun safe as well.

I think anyone handing the gun to the kid would be in the wrong. But a kid having access to a firearm has in the past allowed them to survive a burglary, and if we lock all guns up then we are back to protecting the criminals instead of the innocent.

Oh well, enough rambling. Hope some of this makes a little bit of sense.

April 2, 2003, 04:03 PM
This really reminds me. My drummer said he use to play Russian Roulette- with a cap gun. Still dumb if you ask me.

April 2, 2003, 05:16 PM
Responded to that thread, TheOtherOne. I'm so glad I live in the USA where people (at least many people) realize that it's their right to not have to accept it when they're raped/shot/assaulted/etc. and to defend themself.

At least for now.

April 2, 2003, 05:32 PM
I feel bad for the parents...it's never good when you have to bury a child. But let's face it, this kid wasn't going to find a cure for AIDS or be the next Al Gore ( or maybe he was :evil: ), maybe this was his contribution to society :scrutiny:

April 2, 2003, 06:03 PM
Responded to that thread, TheOtherOne. I'm so glad I live in the USA where people (at least many people) realize that it's their right to not have to accept it when they're raped/shot/assaulted/etc. and to defend themself.

Thanks! There were a few people in it that see the truth behind gun control, but just far too many people from those European countries that don't know better or something.

The statement that irked me the most was this one (said in reply to defending ones self from an armed criminal):

You don't have the right to kill someone no matter what they are doing, and that is all that guns are designed for. That makes you a criminal, and no better than the people you claim you are defending yourselves against.

At least for now.

I hear ya. I'm afraid the good old USA will follow the gun control paths of some of those countries over there far sooner than I would like. I just hope I'm not around, my kids aren't around, and my kids kids aren't around when it does.


April 2, 2003, 06:33 PM
My issue with that is they don't seem to understand the hypocrisy of their statement. If I don't have the right to kill anybody... why is it okay for them to do so unharassed in their efforts?

If somebody tries to take my life and commit serious and dangerous violence, they forfeit that same right to me. They just turned it into me vs them, and I will do all in my power to make sure it's me and those around me who win.

Sadly, some of these people just either aren't willing to see the light, or are so misguided by their gov't that they can't.

April 2, 2003, 09:17 PM
This makes me furious. I wish he could have shot a finger off and learned a cheaper lesson. Most of us were pretty stupid before we were 20 or so. Maybe not this stupid, but many of us learned lessons that could have been deadly. I'm very sorry for these boys and I wish they had got a 2nd chance.

April 2, 2003, 10:40 PM
Several thoughts come to mind. For those who commented upon the leaving a loaded gun in the house point; I don't believe the article stated whether or not the owners had left the gun loaded or not. Fourteen year olds are certainly able to load revolvers. Perhaps the ammo was merely stored with the gun, you don't know for sure, now do you?
I would bet a dollar against a dead rat that neither the Below nor LeForte family are long term Casper residents. Howcome? They weren't listed in the 98/99 telephone directory for Casper. Does that mean they couldn't be long term residents or Casper? No, of course not, but I'll make the bet anyway. I am a long term resident of Casper, but don't presently live there. Attended Dean Morgan Junior High and Natrona County High School.
The point being that Casper is a firearms friendly town. The comment about attending the high school is relevant. I personally sent tens if not hundreds of thousands of rounds of .22 long rifle downrange at the live fire range located in the basement of the school. NCHS was & is an ROTC public high school. The Stuckenhoff public range facility in Casper is state-of-the-art & was built with public funds. The firearms climate in the town is generally very knowledgeable & responsible. There is a far lower 'fear factor' in Casper concerning firearms than there might be in say - Paramus New Jersey or Mill Valley CA. All of which makes me think that it is highly probable that neither teen was actually raised in the Casper enviroment. Again though, I could be wrong.
I'll also make the same bet that if a non-biased poll were conducted at all of the 4 junior high schools in the city, the vast majority of the respondants would grade out to some version of:
He was stupid. This was a tragic death, but, to put it in perspective, remember - Nobody said that the blood that nourishes the roots of the tree of liberty, wouldn't be our own.

April 3, 2003, 01:25 AM
A close friend of mine commited suicide too, but by hanging. Would you tell his father it was his fault for not locking up the clothesline?

April 3, 2003, 05:08 AM
It seems to me that if the parents are to blame it is for lack of education. Now I will state outright that I lean more toward the Ann Rynd school of thought, but why is it my responsiblity to look out for anyone other than myself? That is half the problem facing America, we are all in such a rush to look out for our fellow man (and admirable trait to an extent) that we don't keep our own house in order. It was indeed a tragedy that this poor boy had to die, but he took the gun without permission (see stealing) lifted it to his head and pulled the trigger. At that point it didn't matter where the gun came from or who it belonged too. At any point prior to that he could have chosen to put it away. Now we all do stupid things, some of us are just lucky to survive them until we grow wise with the pain.

April 3, 2003, 05:09 AM
This isn't going to sound nice, but if you are stupid enough to play Russian Roulette, you deserve whatever you get.

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