An Indiana teen is dead after being hit by a falling bullet that authorities say was shot into the sky.
Noah Inman, 13, was playing basketball with a group of friends around 9:30 p.m. on July 1 when he collapsed, according to WMAQ. Witnesses called an ambulance, believing the teen may have suffered a seizure.
When he arrived at the hospital, doctors determined that he had been struck by a falling bullet that had been fired into the sky by someone in the area. He died on July 7.
Police have since concluded that the bullet was “most likely fired into the air like a firework.”
“Unfortunately, this is a common action by many people who own guns in our city and they need to know this action has consequences and will be dealt with severely by the Hammond Police Department,” the police department said in a statement. “We ask the public to please keep your Fourth of July celebrations to the use of legal fireworks only.”
After learning of Noah’s death, Hammond police released a second statement on July 9.
“The Hammond Police Department would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the Inman family,” the statement said. “We wish you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead, and loving memories to forever hold in your hearts. Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow. When reason fails, pray for peace. We will be praying with you.”
Investigators have not been able to identify the person who shot the gun.
Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. described the Inmans as a “good, close-knit Hammond family who [value] education” and said Noah’s death was a “ridiculous fluke.”
“I don’t know what [people who shoot their guns in the air] think happens — the bullet disappears into thin air?” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “The bullet could’ve come from Munster, Cal City, East Chicago, really anywhere close by.”
“It’s like getting struck by lightning — so senseless,” he added. “It’s a horrible tragedy, and I hope the people who could’ve done this come forward.”
The weekend of Noah’s death, his baseball team played games with Noah’s initials and jersey number embroidered on their caps.
“We played three games this weekend, and hearing them chant every few minutes, that got me choked up,” the team’s coach, Juan Maldonado, told the Tribune. “Here I am coaching my son, and Noah, who I’ve coached since he started, doesn’t get to be here.”
Maldonado referred to Noah as a “dream kid.”
“He hustled in everything he did. If you told him to catch on a 100-degree day, he would catch the whole game,” he said. “If you had to bench him because there were too many kids, he would sit without complaining. There are always a few kids who are tough to coach, but Noah was one of the perfect kids.”