By RICK CURL, TOM WOERNER
and SHAUN SAVARESE
Of The Record Staff
A reported accidental shooting claimed the life of a Lillington teen early Monday, according to the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. Shortly before 1 a.m.
Monday, deputies were called to a residence at 2091 N.C. 27 West in Lillington regarding a reported gunshot victim.
While on their way to the scene, deputies were flagged down and notified by family and friends who were in the process of transporting 15-year-old Owen James Caltagirone to Central Harnett Hospital.
Family members were in the process of giving the victim CPR. The deputy aided by giving CPR until EMS arrived on the scene at the intersection of N.C. 27 West in Lillington and Main Street. The victim had been shot in the chest with a shotgun.
A short time later, emergency services personnel arrived and shortly afterward pronounced the victim deceased. An autopsy has been requested.
The victim’s father, Joseph Caltagirone, said his son was in the back yard at the time of the shooting. He said he is not sure what happened.
“I woke up this morning and everything went downhill from there,” Mr. Caltagirone said. “Right now we are trying to figure out what is going on.”
Mr. Caltagirone was at the home Monday morning with other family members. He said his son was a student at Lillington’s Star Academy, which is the county’s alternative school.
Star Academy Principal Ron Avery described Owen as a “pleasant” student who was well behaved at the school.
“It is always unfortunate when something like this happens,” Mr. Avery said.
According to the sheriff’s office, one of the people assisting with resuscitation efforts has claimed responsibility for the shooting.
“At this time in the investigation we are treating it as a homicide,” Sheriff Wayne Coats said. “So far all of the parties who we have spoken with are cooperating.”
Both the 16-year-old person of interest and witnesses said the shooting was accidental, but the investigation is in the early stages, according to the sheriff’s office.
“I’ve spoken with the (district attorney) multiple times today and I will be updating him as the day goes on and as the investigation continues to give him all of the information that we have gathered,” Sheriff Coats said. “At this time, no charges have been filed. We have a person that has taken responsibility, but at this time, because it’s still early on in the investigation, we’re not going to reveal his name.”
The sheriff said the shooting occurred in a building outside the residence that had been converted into a one-room living quarters. He believes the victim to have been residing in the building. The residence where the building is located is owned by the victim’s grandparents, and his parents live there as well.
The victim and the 16-year-old person of interest were reportedly “best friends.” The person of interest, who has taken responsibility for the shooting is not currently in custody, Sheriff Coats said.
“We’re treating it as a homicide at this time because we’re still doing the investigation,” Sheriff Coats said. “He’s taken responsibility, but still we want to rule out everything that we can.”
Sheriff Coats said the teenage person of interest may have also spent time residing in the outbuilding.
He said he was not aware that the victim and the person of interest had any prior interaction with the sheriff’s office. “It’s still early on, I have not had a chance to look at that yet,” he said.
Drugs or alcohol are not suspected factors at this time, but there was no supervision in the building. The sheriff does not have information on ownership of the shotgun at this time and other guns and/or weapons were discovered in the building.
“I understand there were several weapons in there. I’m not sure what other weapons were in there, but they were in that little building,” said the sheriff.
The person of interest is not in custody, but he is still in communication with the department, and Sheriff Coats does not want to speculate as to what happened yet, “due to it being early on in the investigation.”
“One of things I ask,” said the sheriff, “Is that everybody here please pray for this family and the friends. Anytime we lose somebody in the family, we always need to pray for these families and these friends. I ask that the community take some time to pray for them.”