LONGVIEW, Wash. -- Brandon Whipple says his parents did everything right. They locked all their guns in a safe, destroyed one of the two keys it came with, and hid the other in a new spot every three months.
Yet somehow he says his 15-year-old brother still got in.
"Regardless of what measures were taken the unfortunate thing is teenagers tend to be curious and they'll be sneaky about what they are trying to do," Whipple said.
Whipple says his brother and his 14-year-old friend were checking out an old .25-caliber handgun at a home in the 200 block of 26th Avenue. The gun went off, a bullet striking the 14-year-old in the face Thursday at about 3 p.m.
He's not even supposed to have friends over when his parents aren't home, and the boys decided they better put the gun back.
"When it got set in the shelf I guess it got dropped a little bit on the shelf and it was aiming back out and hit the kid in the cheek when it went off," Whipple said.
It turns out that Whipple is a Marine with medical training. He's been renting a house right across the street from where his parents live. When the shooting happened, he ran right over and gave first aid to the boy until first responders could get there.
Whipple says the boy had a pulse and was breathing when EMT's showed up a few minutes later.
He says the boy was shot through the cheek, and if there's any silver lining to this terrible accident, it's that the bullet missed more critical areas.
"Getting shot in the face, getting shot period, isn't good. At the very least it wasn't his brain," Whipple said.
Now as that 14-year-old is in a hospital bed struggling to survive, Brandon's brother wages his own battle against the guilt he says is paralyzing.
The boy is in critical condition at OHSU in Portland.