The shooting death of an 18-year-old Brainerd High School student early Saturday morning was an accident, Crow Wing County Sheriff Eric Klang said Monday.
Daniel Louis Fleischhacker and two friends, Jacob Goetze, 18, rural Brainerd, and a 17-year-old boy, who was not identified because he is a juvenile, had arrived at Fleischhacker's home in Daggett Brook Township about 3 a.m., said Klang. They went into a bedroom, where one of the friends, Goetze, picked up a shotgun belonging to Fleischhacker -- a recent birthday gift from his grandfather, Klang said -- and, not knowing the gun was loaded, fired a shot into Fleischhacker's neck.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department responded to the Fleischhacker residence, located on Crow Wing County Road 139, at 3:08 a.m. Fleischhacker was pronounced dead at the scene.
"The impact (of the shot) killed him instantly," said Klang. "He didn't know what hit him."
Klang said there are no charges pending against Goetze and based on the investigation there was nothing that would lead the sheriff's department to believe the shooting was anything other than accidental.
Fleischhacker and his friends had been "hanging out," said Klang, and alcohol didn't appear to be involved in the shooting. He said he is awaiting more information from toxicology reports and the coroner's autopsy results.
Klang stressed that, as happened in Fleischhacker's death, people should never assume a gun is unloaded.
"It's a senseless, tragic death that really could have been avoided with proper gun care," said Klang. "It's kind of really sad, you know."
As she dealt with the loss of her youngest son Sunday, Fleischhacker's mother, Barbara, offered advice to parents whose children have access to guns.
"Keep asking them if it's unloaded," she said. "This is tough."
Barbara Fleischhacker said her son was an avid fisherman and hunter and loved wrestling. She said he had not decided on plans for after high-school graduation, but he was thinking about college or trade school.
"He was very outgoing and liked to joke around," she said. "He had lots of friends and was well loved."
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension assisted with the investigation.
(This story contains information from The Associated Press.)
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