Teen accidentally shoots and kills self in Crittenden County

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CRITTENDEN COUNTY, Ark. -- A teenager in Crittenden County accidentally shot and killed himself Monday night, according to the sheriff's department.

"I pray, God, that your healing and your virtue will continue to bless this family God."

Family members turned to prayer as they tried to come to grips with what went on in Earle.

Yellow crime tape and latex gloves sat outside of an apartment in the 200 block of Lincoln where 16-year-old Kevin Branch died.

Loved ones said the teen got into some sort of altercation at a basketball court earlier in the day.

"Evidently the young man made an idle threat," Angela Jones, victim's cousin, said. "Kevin feared for his life."

Family members told WREG that Branch somehow got a gun.

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"He went to put the gun into his waistband and we suspect that's when it went off," Chief Todd Grooms, with the Crittenden County Sheriff's Department, said.

Deputies said witnesses and evidence showed the teen accidentally shot himself in the abdomen.

"We don't suspect foul play in any way," Grooms explained.

Earle High School has grief counselors on standby all week.

The high school is where family members said Kevin was a junior and an honors student.

"Now he won't be able to enjoy the pleasure of most young men as far as walking across the stage and an honor graduate because his life ended last night," Jones said.

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Branch is described as a happy young man who worked hard and loved fashion.

Family members wished the victim talked about his problems before trying to solve them on his own.

"Once you take the law or matters into your own hand, you take the chance on losing your life," Jones said.

"As we all know kids are kids. He needed to be better educated on how to handle the weapon, but more importantly that that, he shouldn't have had the weapon to begin with," Grooms said.

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