Eddie Vargas's mother told him not to go out Thursday afternoon, his family said, but the 16-year-old Phoenix boy insisted.
Hours after he left to hang out with friends at a nearby house, the family learned someone in that group had unintentionally shot Vargas, killing him.
"It just hurts," Vargas's classmate Luis Ponce said Sunday, as friends and family washed cars to raise money for the teen's funeral. "I wish he was still here."
Witnesses initially told officers Vargas shot himself, police said, but investigators found inconsistencies in their accounts. Police said they determined 18-year-old Jose Heredia-Garcia had been playing with a gun before accidentally shooting Vargas.
Jose Heredia-Garcia (Photo: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Heredia-Garcia and Vargas attended Peoria Accelerated High School together, according to Vargas' friends.
Heredia-Garcia was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and possession of a weapon by a prohibited person Thursday. As of Sunday, police had not released additional details about the case.
Standing outside Federico's Mexican restaurant in west Phoenix, Ponce described Vargas as "a cool guy" who everyone at school "was just cool with."
The pair often played video games together after school, he said. They had talked Thursday morning about going shopping for Nike Air Force shoes.
Lorrisa Vargas, one of Eddie Vargas's five siblings, described her younger brother as the "life of the party." She said he would always joke around with friends and family.
Annette Miranda, 44, wears a T-shirt with a picture of her son, Eddie Vargas at a car wash in west Phoenix. (Photo: Uriel J. Garcia/The Republic)
Vargas's death highlights a problem proponents of gun-law reform have long decried: unintentional fatal shootings, especially among minors.
Accidental shootings in the U.S. increased from 1,608 in 2014 to 2,203 in 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit tracks shootings through media reports and law-enforcement records.
There have been 1,875 accidental shootings in 2017 so far.
In addition to the car wash, a friend of the family started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.
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