EVERETT - On Thursday evening, three teenage boys gathered at a friend's West Providence Township house. One brought a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, state police at Bedford said Friday.
"They were laughing and joking around while pointing the gun and dry-firing," a court document stated.
Less than 12 hours later, 15-year-old Neal Hammond died at Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown. The cause was a gunshot wound to the head, Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said.
"It was pretty much going to be a sleepover, like any other 15-year-old boys hanging out," state Trooper Dana Martini, who responded to the late-night emergency call, said Friday.
Within hours of the apparent accident, state police arrested Cole McConoughey, also 15, and charged him as an adult with aggravated assault. It is not yet clear whether charges will be changed in light of his friend's death.
When the friends met at McConoughey's Riverview Road home, a third teenager brought the revolver and two .38-caliber bullets, police said.
The gun was left unloaded in a basement drawer, the boy told police, but as they were playing, McConoughey allegedly removed it. He spun the revolver's cylinder, loading and unloading bullets - "pointing the gun and joking around," police said.
"Let's play Russian roulette," the boy allegedly heard McConoughey say as he inserted a round and spun the cylinder, according to court documents.
A moment later, McConoughey allegedly pointed the gun at Hammond's head.
"He pulled the trigger thinking it was going to click," police said.
The gun fired; the bullet struck Hammond's right temple.
Hammond was rushed to Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown, about 2 a.m. Friday. He died at 9:29 a.m., Kwiatkowski said.
Hammond, a dedicated varsity wrestler and successful student, would have begun 10th grade this fall at Everett Area High School, wrestling coach Rob Ripple said.
He was well-liked and easygoing - and close friends with the other boy, a fellow wrestler who allegedly brought the revolver Thursday night.
"We'll get together as a team and go to the viewing," Ripple said. "Everett wrestling today lost a family member."
By the time Hammond was pronounced dead, McConoughey had been arrested, charged and taken to Bedford County Jail on $100,000 bail, which was set to be paid Friday afternoon.
Additional charges will likely be filed, Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins said in a statement.
The initial aggravated assault charge was based on McConoughey's "reckless" behavior, not malice, police said.
"[It was] kids playing with a handgun," Martini said.
"They were all friends."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.