NBC 4 New York
Mourners held a wake Friday for a 6-year-old New Jersey boy who was shot in the head by his 4-year-old neighbor. Family and friends also held a candlelight vigil Friday night for Brandon Holt and will hold another vigil Saturday after his funeral. Lori Bordonaro reports.
Mourners held a wake Friday for a 6-year-old New Jersey boy who was shot in the head by his 4-year-old neighbor.
Family and friends also held a candlelight vigil Friday night for Brandon Holt and will hold another vigil Saturday after his funeral.
They recalled the energetic boy who loved the Jersey Shore boardwalk, and wore buttons that featured his picture with ribbons in green — his favorite color.
"He was just so strong of a person, and to not have him and to not have him here is like losing everything," said Laura Decker, an aunt of the boy.
"Brandon loved to swim," she added later. "He loved his family, he loved his cousins, he idolized his older brother. He was a wonderful, wonderful child."
"The kid was -- he was life," said Randel Holt, an uncle of Holt. "I have never seen him not smile, even when he got punished."
Neighbors have also placed purple ribbons on trees and mailboxes along his street, in his honor.
Family friend Bernadette Harney said she was devastated for the boy's mother.
"Everything she talked about was Brandon, all the time," she said. "This has got to be crushing her."
Holt died at a hospital Tuesday night, about 24 hours after he was shot with a rifle outside the 4-year-old's home in Toms River.
The two boys had been playing outside when Holt was shot from about 15 yards away. It's not clear if the 4-year-old pulled the trigger or if the rifle accidentally discharged.
Holt's grandmother, Donna Elefante, told NBC 4 New York that the parents of the younger boy initially told Holt's family that the gun used in the shooting was a pellet gun and that their son had gotten the gun from under the bed in the master bedroom.
The tragedy is raising more questions about gun control, but mourners were trying to stayed focused on comforting the family.
"We've got to do something to keep our children safe, because this is ridiculous," said family friend Fred Maicas.
Meanwhile, Holt's parents have donated his organs and are proud to know he will be saving another life.
"Knowing that a couple kids survived because of Ron and Christine's generosity, they prevented what we are going through right now," said Randel Holt.
Police are continuing to investigate how the younger child obtained the rifle from his family's home on McCormick Drive. The boy's father was known to be an avid hunter, and his three children have names associated with hunting terms, according to neighbors and law enforcement sources.