The 15-year-old boy shot in the leg during a basketball game at a South Side church Thursday has admitted to police he accidentally shot himself with a firearm he had been carrying inside the church.
Martin Luther Lutheran Church, 420 Clearmount Drive, was having a regular basketball program for males age 15 to 20 in the church gymnasium when a fight occurred and a shot rang out.
Police responded to the emergency call about the 15-year-old boy reporting being shot. He told responding officers he and several of his friends were playing a pick-up game of basketball when a masked man dressed in all black came into the gymnasium shot him once in the leg, then fled the church.
Witnesses heard the gunshot and noticed everyone looking to take cover, but did not see anyone fleeing the church directly after the shot was fired.
Foley said the boy created the story to hide the fact he had been carrying a gun inside the church that discharged while he was playing basketball.
“None of what he said matched up with the evidence we found at the scene. ... Thankfully it was an accident and not someone out there shooting for this young man or that we are having random shootings inside churches,” the chief said.
Police are investigating the matter to determine where the boy obtained the gun and where he put it after the shooting.
“We are going to finish up our investigation then take the matter to the juvenile prosecutor, but we still have not found the firearm. He said he took it outside and threw it away, but we want to find that firearm,” Foley said.
About 25 basketball players were in the gym at the time.
The program at the Newport-area church was started to give the teenagers a way to stay off the streets and have something to do at night, said the Rev. Paul Heine, church pastor. It is supported by parents, and adults are on duty during the program.