Best Friend Mourns Loss of Teenage Shooting Victim
A West Fork teen’s shooting death was accidental and self-inflicted, according to a preliminary investigation report released Wednesday by county deputies.
West Fork High School students went to school Wednesday (Oct. 16) with one less classmate following an accidental fatal shooting.
Sophomore Michael Dillon Brawley was found dead late Tuesday afternoon after he was shot in the chest around 4 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 15), according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Ryan Miller, 17, was one of Brawley’s best friends.
“I just can’t believe any of this is going on right now,” Miller said.
Ryan said he, Dillon and Travis Landelius hung out almost every day during the summer.
“It’s not going to be the same going back to Travis because that’s what we all three did was hangout,” Miller said.
Miller said when the incident happened, Landelius was with Brawley.
“Travis is really tore up. I was down there and he’s shaken still,” Miller said. “He hasn’t eaten or slept at all.”
Miller said he’ll remember the good times spent together.
“He’s always funny and always had people laughing,” Miller said.
The trio loved the outdoors. Miller said one memory was of a day they went muddying.
“We went back and threw each other in the mud and everything,” Miller said. “Dillon jumped on the hood all muddy and wrote, ‘Yee.’”
At West Fork High School, Silvia Ann Duncan, 15, said the halls were somber.
“I was bawling in first hour and I had to go to the counselor,” Duncan said.
Duncan said she’ll never forget her friend.
“Dillon was a really great guy,” Duncan said. “He was funny and silly.”
Duncan lives in Brawley’s neighborhood and hopes everyone knows the kind of person he was.
“Just remember how he’s just a real nice kid and never had any problem with anyone,” Miller said.
Miller said the West Fork High School football team will dedicate Friday’s game to Dillon Brawley.
The reported accidental shooting happened at the intersection of Bethlehem Road and Landelius Road, just west of West Fork
The high school’s principal, John Crowder, met with teachers Wednesday morning to talk about how administrators planned to help students.
“We need to not ignore it, but address it with our students this morning in a sensitive way,” Crowder said. “We want to be factual and squash rumors.”
Teachers spoke with students during their first class, and a team of grief counselors was brought in for students.
“We’re very sad to lose somebody; we’re shocked,” Crowder said. “He was so young and a fine young man, and I tell you what, he’s going to be greatly missed.”
Brawley died of a single gunshot wound, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
No other injuries were reported and no arrests have been made.
Michelle Sherwin lives close to the scene and said she heard Brawley and a young man were using guns in a field.
“My niece, like I said, was good friends with him,” Sherwin said. “These kids are up and down this road all the time out here. This is a road where they ride their bicycles and they ride their horses.”
Brawley’s body has been sent to the state crime lab to determine the official cause of death.
(See the school’s reaction to Brawley’s death below)