INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - An Indianapolis mother is on a mission after her son was shot dead by his best friend.
Nick King was 14 years old when his friends thought they'd scare him with a gun as a prank after his friend's brother had just purchased a gun online. But the practical joke turned deadly when someone pulled the trigger.
King's mother, Lori King, told 24-Hour News 8 her son's death put her on a mission to educate others on gun safety and how easy it was for the 18-year-old to get the gun.
She hadn't talked publicly about that tragic day until she sat down with 24-Hour News 8. Some parents would be angry with her son's best friend, but King is not.
King said she never imagined she would be living her life talking about gun safety. She said she hoped by talking about her loss, others would learn that a gun is not a toy.
"I have good days and bad days. Certain songs will come on the radio," King said.
Six months after her son's tragic death, small things remind King of the good times with him.
"Everything just reminds me of Nick; you know, the grass needs to be cut, or the snow needs to be shoveled," she said.
Oct. 30, 2012 was the last time Lori ever saw him and said a word to him.
"I said you had to be home by 1:30, so make sure you tell your ride that," King said.
Nick never made it home. He was visiting his best friend's home on the southeast side of Indianapolis around 8 o'clock that night when a prank went wrong. Police said Nick's best friend and the friend's step-brother, 18-year-old Kevin Edwards, had a gun and wanted to scare him.
Lori was working her part-time job that night.
"I went for a break and I had missed like 18 phone calls; I had a bunch of phone messages," King said. "Phone numbers I didn't know and I listened to the one message of the phone number I didn't know and it was a man saying, ‘You need to call me, there's been an incident involving minors.' And my first thought was, ‘Nick, what did you do?'
"My girlfriend came down and she had said, It's all over Facebook — Nick's been shot," King said.
Medics pronounced Nick dead at the scene. Both Edwards and Nick's best friend, just 15 years old, were arrested.
"I didn't believe it. I didn't believe it because they were best friends. They didn't play with guns," King said.
Edwards told investigators he purchased the AK-47 off of Craigslist.
"I was furious. I was like, you can't. You can buy cars and sofas and houses on Craigslist, and then we went on Craigslist and pulled up guns and just hundreds, just pages and pages of guns. You shouldn't be allowed to do that," King said.
But anyone over 18 can.
"When Kevin brought the gun home on a Monday and showed his mom and said, ‘Look at what I just bought off of Craigslist,' and she said, ‘I don't want that in my house, get it out of my house,'" said King.
Edwards wasn't charged for buying the gun. It's not illegal in Indiana to buy or carry a rifle, and buying it online from a private seller doesn't require a background check.
"If they are not licensed as a federal firearms licensee, then they would not be mandated to conduct a background check, nor would they probably have the means to do so," said David Coulson with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
King said she believes people who want to buy guns should have to pay money to go through a background check to keep others safe. She said gun education is important.
"Nick still could be living if Kevin knew about guns, if his 15-year-old brother knew about guns," King said.
King and her family are on a crusade to spread the message: a gun is not a toy.
"It's not a toy. If you do not know how to use a gun, you don't know what that gun can do. You shouldn't have it in your hands," she said.
Lori's brother in California is making a documentary in his nephew's memory — "1 Gun, 2 Families, 3 Teenagers"
"These kids are going through something that they should not have to go through. They are learning about something they shouldn't have to learn about," said Jeremy Summers, Nick's uncle.
"I would do anything. I would walk on fire to have him back," said King. "He meant so much to me. He was my buddy, and that's what I called him. He was my buddy."
She said she hopes her mission can save another life. She's doing it for Nick.
"A gun is not a toy. Let's stop the violence now so that more young children aren't killed needlessly like Nick was," King said.
The King family moved to Indianapolis eight years ago from Oshawa, Canada. That's where Nick was laid to rest in November.
In his memory, King and her family are hoping if they can educate one person about gun safety. She said it's one family that won't have to endure a tragic loss.
Edwards was sentenced in March to four years in prison. He's expected to be released in November 2014. The 15-year-old was charged as a juvenile and was in custody as of the beginning of May.
For more on the documentary, click here.
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