Remembering Matthew: Sweetwater mourns teen’s shooting death
By Tommy Millsaps | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SWEETWATER — Sometimes someone special comes along. They bring joy and laughter to all of the people around them.
That’s how the community is remembering Matthew Daniels.
The 15-year-old Sweetwater High freshman died after he accidentally shot himself Thursday afternoon while handling a family handgun.
Police say Daniels was killed when the gun discharged at his home.
“It’s a tragedy for the family and the community,” Sweetwater Police Chief Eddie Byrum said.
Since the accident, family, friends, fellow students and the community have paid tribute to the young man who no doubt had a bright future in front of him. A large tribute was held at the school Sunday in honor of the teenager, who not only was a good student, but a good athlete as well. He was also quick with a joke, but more importantly, he was a friend to everyone.
“Matthew was a great kid,” Sweetwater High Principal David Watts said. “He had a great sense of humor. He was just a joy.”
Counselors have been at the school this week to help students cope with their grief. Watts said the student’s tragic death has been hard for the close-knit freshman class. At the same time, the senior class is comforting Daniels’ older sister, Isabella.
Teachers and students have been writing their thoughts about Matthew down on paper to give to his family and they have also written their thoughts on a big poster at the school.
“It’s OK to cry,” Watts told the students. “But it’s OK to laugh.”
While many people remember his quick wit, Watts said Daniels’ best quality was probably something else.
“He was a champion of the underdog,” Watts said. “If there was a kid who struggled, Matt would be there for them.”
And while test scores are what we talk about in education these days, Watts said it’s important the school takes time to remember Daniels.
“He won’t be forgotten. He can’t be forgotten,” Watts said. “We are going to do what’s right.”
Many teachers and students have worn purple this week, Daniels’s favorite color, in honor of him.