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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

A death in Gary

A 12-year-old boy in Gary left home with a gun, and he was later found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Now, everybody is trying to figure out what happened to someone who "never showed any signs that he was troubled."

"He was bubbly. He thought he was a comedian. He always told corny jokes," said Krystal Slager, a friend of the 12-year-old Michael "Wayne" Maxey's family.

[. . .]

Authorities have not yet confirmed whether his death was a suicide or accidental.

I'm not sure they ever will. Even if they do find some evidence that he was "troubled," suicide is a strong term to use for a 12-year-old. It implies intent and full knowledge of the conequences of one's actions.

When I was in the sixth grade, a classmate shot herself in the head. All of us talked for days about what had happened. Did she mean to do it? Was she just playing and have an accident? The most likely scenario our 11-year-old minds could embrace was that she had gotten angry at her parents and was trying to scare them. That was one of the first times I remember experiencing the reality that sudden and shocking things can happen to people you know. This is going to be with people like Michael's friend Krystal for the rest of their lives. I know.