CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) - The death of a Carlsbad boy who was accidentally shot and killed by his teenage cousin last week is hitting the boy's classmates hard.
Students and staff at Alta Vista Middle School are just beginning the grieving process for the loss of 12-year-old Jeremy Hatfield, known for playing football and his smile.
The silent hallways of the school is just one example of his absence.
"It was very quiet. It was a little somber," said principal Mark Barela. "It's a difficult time for little kids age 12 to 15. It's hard to lose someone they see every day in and day out."
Barela said Hatfield was always smiling and had a great sense of humor.
"He did stick out a little bit in the crowd," he said.
Carlsbad police say Hatfield and his cousin, Michael Schultz, 15, were playing around their house Sept. 4.
They say Schultz pulled out a handgun, pointed it at Hatfield's chest and accidently shot and killed the seventh grader.
"It's sad he left us so soon, but there's always a purpose, so I hope our students here will learn form this mistake that happened, this accident," said Barela.
He says the grieving process at school may never end, but he also says staff is doing everything in their power to celebrate Hatfield's life.
The school hosted a pep-rally in Hatfield's honor Tuesday afternoon and his teammates are dedicating their football game Tuesday night and the rest of their season to him.
"We just have to show our kids everyday that you know that life is important," said Hatfield's football coach Gary Acosta. "You have to live life to the fullest. You have to live day by day. You never know what's going to happen."
Barela said Jeremy is part of the school's "family" and "he will be remembered."
Funeral services will be held this weekend in Carlsbad.
Schultz is charged with involuntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence and unlawful possession of a handgun.
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