A 21st birthday party took an incredibly tragic turn last week after the host of the celebration drunkenly toyed around with a gun and ended up fatally shooting his best friend in the chest – a mistake that ended up causing the shooter to turn the gun on himself.
20-year-old Zachary Woodcock of Merrill, Michigan, invited several friends to his apartment on Friday night to celebrate his 21st birthday, WJRT-TV reported. One of the attendees was 21-year-old Richard Skillman.
“From what I heard, they were best of friends,” said Saginaw County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Gomez.
The party proceeded like a typical coming-of-legal-age birthday bash and the booze began to flow. At some point, an inebriated Woodcock went to his bedroom for a moment and came back into the living room brandishing a handgun that he apparently wanted to show off to his friends.
“He went into his bedroom, came back out, had a handgun, the handgun went off and struck Mr. Skillman in the chest,” Gomez said.
Partygoers desperately tried to render aid to Skillman, but it was already too late. In the midst of the chaos, minutes after Woodcock realized he had fatally shot his best friend, he left the apartment and killed himself.
“They heard a shot, walked out and there he was,” Gomez said.
A woman who heard the first shot recalled a frantic scene: “I heard the gun pop off. I heard yelling and screaming and I came down to see if I could assist anybody,” she told the station.
Investigators ultimately removed a total of about 10 guns from the apartment and from Skillman’s car. Both of the deceased were reportedly gun aficionados who owned multiple firearms.
Gomez is pointing to the incident as a tragic reminder that guns are not to be handled under certain circumstances.
“Anytime there is alcohol involved and guns, that is a bad mix and almost nothing good is ever going to come out if it,” he said.