A teenage boy accidentally shot and killed his 15-year-old brother in their north Minneapolis home over the weekend as they played with a gun that they reportedly found in a nearby park, the family said.
Brandon D. Wren was shot in the neck shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday in his family's home in the 4100 block of Fremont N., according to the Hennepin County medical examiner's office. He died immediately.
The boy's 14-year-old brother pulled the trigger in an upstairs bedroom, and an 18-year-old brother was also there, Temeka Wren, Brandon's stepmother, said as she sat on her front steps trying to hold back tears.
They're good kids, she said. "They just made a bad decision. They made a bad decision," she said.
It was a weekend of heartbreak for the family.
The fatal shooting came a day after the family buried the boys' 28-year-old sister, who died of cancer.
Elbert Wren, Brandon's father, couldn't bring himself to speak about the shooting Tuesday, saying he wanted to "block it out."
Police are still investigating exactly what happened and how the boys obtained the gun.
The boys were supposed to be getting ready for school upstairs in the house around 11 p.m., Temeka Wren said. Suddenly she heard a loud noise and the power went out. The children ran down the stairs yelling, and Wren knew something was horribly wrong. Wren and her husband ran upstairs and saw Brandon on the floor.
She cradled Brandon in her arms as she called 911.
"I don't understand … They know better," Wren said about the boys playing with a gu
An investigator later told Wren that the boys found the gun in a park.
Police spokesman John Elder said investigators "don't believe there was any malice" on the part of the boy who fired the fatal shot. "No intent."
Still, the profound guilt the 14-year-old feels is "eating him alive," Wren said.
K. G. Wilson, a neighborhood activist, said his phone rang within minutes of the shooting, and "I jumped in the truck and ran over there."
Wilson said that when he arrived at the home he found people distraught.
"People were running down the street. I tried to grab them. They were falling down in the street" with grief, he said.
Wilson said it is far too easy for children to get their hands on a gun.
"These kids can get a gun just like they can go and get a Snickers bar," said Wilson, who has found himself responding to shootings in Minneapolis to help loved ones cope. "It's not a surprise to the people who know."
Brandon was a ninth-grader at Patrick Henry High School and loved to play basketball and dreamed of attending college and then becoming a professional basketball star, his stepmother said. He and his siblings would often play basketball behind their house, where he lived with Wren and his father and five other siblings.
"He played too much; he's so silly," Wren said. "He's always cracking a joke."
Next-door neighbor Barbara Atlas, 61, said she remembered Brandon as a respectful and energetic child.
"He had a long life ahead of him," she said.
Wren's death has been classified as a homicide by the medical examiner's office, but that is not at odds with police calling the shooting accidental, according to an official with the office.
"Homicide is a medical definition that basically means the death was due to the actions of another person, regardless of intent," said Shawn Wilson, operations manager for the medical examiner's office, who added that he was not specifically addressing this case.
"A homicide can be an accident, but it was still someone else's actions that resulted in the death," he added.