OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. – Friends and family are mourning the death of teenager in Ottawa County.
Brandon Kuiper, 16, passed away on Friday after he was shot in the face playing a Russian Roulette-type game earlier in the week, according to the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office.
Richey Usher is accused of pulling the trigger.
“Richey, himself, is a country guy, so he has guns, I know (kids) would go over there and shoot guns and go squirrel hunting and do all that other stuff,” explains Trey Tetro, a classmate of both Brandon and Richey.
“(Richey) would never use (the guns) to harm someone.”
It’s still hard for Trey to comprehend what happened to his friend.
“Brandon, he was outgoing, he was always nice to everybody, really.”
On Wednesday March 6, deputies in Ottawa County say Brandon and five other teens were hanging out at Richey’s house – there was alcohol, marijuana, and a gun.
Trey says was not hanging out with the group that night. Instead, he found out the next day at school that his long-time friend, Brandon was somehow shot in the face.
“…and I said, ‘is this, like, a joke or something?’”
The 15-year-old quickly learned this wasn’t a joke.
“(Brandon’s) brother actually told me he was on life support, he’s fighting for his life right now,” Trey remembers. “I had that thought in my head that he was going to make it, he’s fighting, he was a strong guy, you know, I thought he was going to make it.”
But, by the end of the week, the boy passed away from his injuries.
“I lost it in front of all my friends,” Trey admits.
And it’s still hard to keep it together now. Trey says counselors and teachers at his school, Allendale New Options High School, try to help, but he’s decided – even after losing his buddy at such a young age – he’s not changing the way he lives his life; Brandon wouldn’t want him to.
“’Oh, is this going to be my last day?’ (Brandon) would never want something like that so I just live each day, like I have no worries.”
And he’s not mad at Richey, who at 18-years-old is sitting behind bars in Ottawa County. In fact, Trey plans on sending a postcard to him in jail.
“I will never hate Richie, I know it was an accident,” he sighs. “It’s tragic that I lost Brandon, but Richey was there and Richey (accidently pulled the trigger), so I’m pretty sure he feels a lot worse than I do.”
Autopsy results for Brandon Kuiper determined the cause of death was “homicide by gun shot.”
Richey Usher was originally being held on attempted manslaughter charges, but since his friend passed away, he’s now charged with manslaughter and could be facing 15 years in prison.