PRINCETON, Minn. (KMSP) - After the recent death of their classmate Eric Nelson, students at Princeton middle school hosted a vigil Tuesday night at New Life Christian Center to come together and rally around the 14-year-old’s family.
“You never know when it's going to happen to you,” said Danny Nelson, Eric’s father. “It happened at my house with another child there.”
On Monday afternoon, Eric was found shot and killed inside his home on the 1300 block of 15th Avenue North, where friends now stop to pay respects.
“Even if you don't own a gun, the house your child goes to may own a gun; you always want every kid to know how to handle a gun safely and what to and not to do because it is important," the grieving father cried.
Another 14-year-old boy, who classmates say Eric considered a friend, was identified at the scene.
“It impacts everybody, and there’s no way around it in a situation like this,” said Pastor Corey Kalinowski of the New Life Christian Center.
It was a sea of red – Eric’s favorite color - outside the church, where a vigil was held in the teen's honor.
“I was like, ‘no way, this can’t be real. Eric can’t be gone. This can’t be right,’” classmate Taylor Donnay said.
The Princeton eighth grader was known for his gift of gab and love of music.
“He always had friends,” Donnay said. “People were sometimes mean to him, but he had so many friends… they stood up for him.”
“He’d always play music in the hallways,” said classmate Haley Dochniak, “he was just a very happy person.”
“He was a wonderful big brother to my little girls, and he loved being a big brother,” Eric's dad added.
The family Eric leaves behind waits to learn more about what on the surface sounds like a tragic accident
“We’d like to think that [it’s an accident],” said Emma Nelson, Eric’s aunt. “It's still under investigation.”
Until the truth is released, Eric’s aunt shares her plea.
“I really just want to stress that parents please, please teach your kids gun safety and what a weapon is capable of doing,” she said.
Police, the BCA and the Mille Lacs County sheriff’s office are now investigating the shooting. Meanwhile, the family has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover Eric’s unexpected funeral expenses