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Spencer Swanson

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Oct. 17: 16-year-old boy hit by best friend's arrow in Chaska dies

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and KELLY SMITH
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • October 18, 2012 - 2:03 PM

Grief and shock spread across classrooms and social media Tuesday as friends and classmates of 16-year-old Spencer Swanson of Chaska learned he had died after his best friend accidentally shot him in the head with an arrow.

Throughout the day, those who knew Swanson turned to Facebook and Twitter to share their memories and grief.

"He was random, funny, outgoing and, like, a very nice person," said Gwen Gallick, 14, a freshman at Chaska High School who had recently met Swanson and started a Facebook page to honor him. "He deserves that everyone knows what happened to him."

Swanson was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center after he was shot Saturday. Police said he died from the injuries Monday night.

Swanson was a junior at the Integrated Arts Academy, a school that opened in Chaska this fall. Eastern Carver County Schools spokesman Brett Johnson said grief counselors are on hand to help students in the coming days.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," he said. "It's a tragic day for students."

Swanson was shot about 6:25 p.m. Saturday in Stanford Circle, near both of the boys' homes. Swanson was riding to his friend's house on his bike when the arrow struck him in the head, Police Chief Scott Knight said. No one else was in the immediate area, which the chief described as "open green space" in a residential neighborhood.

It's not known how the shooting occurred or what type of bow and arrow was used. Knight declined to answer questions detailing what happened.

In the quiet neighborhood, a man at the bow handler's house said Tuesday that the family had no comment. Attorney Marsh Halberg, who spoke on behalf of the 16-year-old's family, said the arrow ricocheted off the ground. He said the incident involving a tipless arrow was a "tragic accident" that did not involve "any horseplay."

"I have lived in Chaska over 30 years," Halberg said Tuesday. "This tragedy has brought out the best in others in our community. There has been an overwhelming wave of support and prayers that have been communicated to me through phone calls, text messages and e-mails that people want to pass on to both families that are grieving."

Knight said that Chaska prohibits the discharge of weapons -- and that includes bows -- within city limits. For the most part, those violations are considered misdemeanors, he added. No arrests have been made or citations issued; authorities continue to investigate.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482 Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

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