A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot at the home of a Tampa police officer on Friday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The boy was identified as Bradley Hulett by Operation Lotus, a Hillsborough County non-profit group that supports families who have experienced a sudden loss.
The Sheriff’s Office has not released the teenager’s name or provided details about how the shooting happened. The incident involved four teenagers, ages 15 to 16, the Sheriff’s Office said. An agency spokeswoman on Saturday said it was likely an accident but an investigation was ongoing.
Operation Lotus founder Melanie Brockmeier Jordy, whose group is raising money to support the Hulett family, told the Tampa Bay Times on Saturday that the family was not ready to speak with the news media and has asked for privacy.
Hulett attended Newsome High School in Lithia, Brockmeier Jordy said.
“At 15 years old, Bradley stole the hearts of all who knew him with his sweet disposition, intelligence, and charisma,” a post on the Operation Lotus Facebook page said. “His passions in life were his family, friends, and basketball... A tragic accident took him from us too soon.”
Deputies were alerted to the incident just after 4 p.m. Friday, when a teenager called 911 to report a shooting on Bridgewalk Drive in the Fishhawk Ranch development.
They arrived within five minutes and found the 15-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the upper body. Investigators are trying to determine how the teenagers came in possession of a loaded weapon.
The Sheriff’s Office has not released the name of the Tampa police officer who lives at the home. The officer was on duty at the time of the shooting, and the teenager who was shot was not related to him, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The Tampa Police Department said the officer is an 11-year veteran of the force.
The home where the shooting took place is on a quiet street lined with houses festooned with holiday decorations. A woman who answered the door of the home said the officer was not available to speak to a reporter who visited Saturday morning.
“It’s a tragedy because it could have been prevented,” Hillsborough sheriff’s Capt. Preston Hollis said at a news conference Friday, adding “Anytime we have one of these events, unfortunately, it’s a great time to talk about gun safety and firearm safety."
The captain warned that anyone handling firearms should assume they’re loaded, and that adults should always secure their weapons. Children should also be warned to never handle guns.
Operation Lotus has planned a vigil for Monday at 6 p.m. outside of the Art Monkey at Park Square in Lithia.
“Our community can come together to remember and honor this beautiful child,” a post on the group’s Facebook page reads.
Times staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report.