Teen dies after best friend accidentally shoots him in the face, N.M. police say

Zachary Hammond
Zachary Hammond Albuquerque Police Department

After his best friend Eric Apisa dropped by his home Tuesday with some friends, Zachary Hammond offered to show the 19-year-old a pistol he had for sale, KRQE reported.

Hammond , 18, removed the magazine and jokingly pointed the gun at Apisa’s face in the driveway of his Albuquerque, New Mexico, home, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

“Zach stated in the past he and Eric have pointed guns at each other multiple times just to mess around,” police said, according to the publication. “According to Zach the gun just went off.”

He had not checked the chamber or safety, KRQE reported. Apisa and his friends had originally come to Hammond’s home to buy some Xanax, police said.

Hammond told police that he saw the bullet hit Apisa’s forehead and began shouting that he was sorry, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Friends took Apisa to a hospital, where he died Friday, while Hammond fled. He turned himself in to police on Friday as well.

Apisa’s mother and Hammond’s girlfriend described the two teens as best friends, and Apisa’s mother told police she considered Hammond a son, KRQE reported.

Hammond faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence, The Associated Press reported.

He admitted giving the pistol “to a neighbor for safekeeping,” prompting the evidence-tampering charge, The Associated Press reported.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.