Freeman community mourns the loss of 8-year-old Sean Hofer - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Freeman community mourns the loss of 8-year-old Sean Hofer

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The community of Freeman is dealing with a tragic loss.

An 8-year-old boy is dead -- accidentally shot by his 9-year-old brother at their home Tuesday evening.

According to  Hutchinson County State's Attorney Glenn Roth, the boys were playing with a revolver when the unthinkable happened -- it accidentally discharged, taking the life of 8-year-old Sean Hofer.

It was a very solemn day in the small town of Freeman. Neighbors say they think of themselves as a family, not a city.

Today, Freeman is mourning the loss of one of its own.

"It's surreal. We're a big family. We're not a community. So to have one of our own, have something unexpected like this happen, it hits everybody,"said Meranda Vin Ningen, Freeman.

Meranda Van Ningen has two children -- a 9-year-old son and a soon to be 7-year-old daughter.

When she first heard the devastating news, she and her husband immediately checked their gun safe to make sure everything was accounted for, so an accident like this never happens again.

"We have a safe and we have our guns locked and unloaded and we want to make sure that they know, especially with something like this, to remind them that this is very serious," said Van Ningen.

She says Sean's death should raise awareness and help educate parents. If you own a gun, is it locked up? Does your child know not to pick up a gun -- even if it's unloaded?

"It just makes you aware that this happens to everybody. This doesn't happen to somebody on television. It happens to the people around you too. You have to be aware of everything," said Van Ningen.

As for the parents of eight-year-old Sean --

"I think they're already being punished. This is painful enough. It's a lesson. It's a hard lesson for everybody. We're uplifting them all in prayers, the whole community," said Van Ningen.

At this time, no charges have been filed against the parents. We will keep you updated on this developing story.

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