NEW BOSTON, Texas—The accidental shooting death of a New Boston High School student athlete on Wednesday occurred after a gun was discovered in a former school board president’s truck, an official said.
Police say Semaj Williams, a senior at New Boston High School and member of the varsity football team, was accidentally shot about 9:30 p.m. by Aaron Conkleton, a NBHS senior and the school’s football quarterback.
The pair, along with senior and fellow football player Jaylyn Jones, was at the Fawcett car wash in downtown New Boston vacuuming a truck when they discovered a gun under the seat, New Boston Police Chief Tony King said.
The truck belongs to Chad Duffer, a local businessman and former New Boston Independent School District school board president, who had hired Jones and Conkleton to perform odd jobs, the chief said.
Conkleton and Jones had washed Duffer’s truck at Duffer’s home earlier in the evening and took it to the car wash to vacuum it, he said.
Williams, who was driving his car, pulled alongside the pair at the car wash, and the students found the gun in the truck and believed it was either unloaded or did not have a round in the chamber.
Conkleton apparently pointed the gun at Williams and pulled the trigger, firing off a round that struck Williams in the chest, King said.
A few more rounds were intentionally fired to draw attention because there was no cellphone available, and Conkleton and Jones placed Williams in the truck to take him to a hospital, King said.
They drove a few feet before spotting a New Boston police car, and the group pulled back into the car wash and flagged down the officer.
The officer took Williams out of the truck to render aid, but he was dead, King said.
Conkleton was detained but released after questioning, and no arrests have been made.
King said the shooting appears to be accidental, with no evidence of malice or intent.
The body has been sent to Dallas for autopsy.
On Thursday, NBISD Superintendent Gary VanDeaver said the district is in shock.
“It’s a tragedy. We’re doing everything we can to reach out to the students and families affected. We are offering counseling, even though school is not in session,” he said.
VanDeaver said he anticipates Conkleton and Jones will be in school when the new school year begins Monday.
A varsity football scrimmage planned for Thursday night in New Boston was canceled.
Police were on scene until the early morning hours Thursday, and on Wednesday night had cordoned off a large area surrounding the car wash and T&P Trailhead Park.
The car wash is south of the park.
A crowd of more than 100 people, including NBISD school administrators and students, gathered Wednesday night to watch as police worked the scene.
Family members later retrieved Williams’ car.
Officers with Bowie County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety assisted with the investigation.