Seventeen-year-old Demarcus Smart and his friends often hung out in the abandoned house down the street.
On Wednesday, they had a gun.
Demarcus was playing with it when he accidentally pulled the trigger, police say. His mother was first to get the news.
One of Demarcus' friends ran next door, where Kewonnda Smart, 33, was on the phone with her sister. On the other end, Patrice Smart could hear the screams.
Demarcus had shot himself in the head. He died at the scene.
"He didn't even get to live to see his 18th birthday," his mother said Thursday, shaking as she sobbed. "Why? Why? Why? That's all I want to know."
Detectives say it was an accident, but they are still investigating.
Friends and family say they're confused by one thing: The gun wasn't found by the teen's side, Kewonnda Smart said.
Neighbors on Brooks Street say they saw police with metal detectors at the abandoned house Wednesday night.
Police eventually recovered the gun, though they won't say where.
Investigators are still trying to determine where Demarcus got the gun, said police spokeswoman Andrea Davis.
That's something Kewonnda Smart wants to know, too.
She's heard a lot of rumors, and she's not sure herself.
She hopes Demarcus' friends explain everything to police.
"I just want to know the truth," she said. "I just want closure."
Demarcus spent time in foster care and was expecting to be awarded money for independent living, his mother said. He planned to pursue his GED.
He lived with his mother in a yellow duplex on the street just north of Busch Boulevard, near Sulphur Springs.
He enjoyed dancing and wanted to be an Ultimate Fighting Championship contestant.
He leaves a 12-year-old brother and sisters ages 9 and 15.
Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.