Neighbors and family members said Monday they're going to remember Michael Pierce as an intelligent, respectful young man who liked to tell jokes.
Pierce, a sixth grade student at Roseland Christian School, was killed when a gun that he and his 14-year-old brother were playing with Sunday evening went off, police said. The 12-year-old was struck in the face by a bullet and pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center shortly after 7 p.m.
"I just heard a lot of noise, and when I came out the ambulance pulled up [and] the little kid, he was just devastated," said neighbor Willie Weston.
Weston said he'd known Pierce ever since he was adopted out of foster care in 1999.
"We'd like to remember him just like this. He was 12 years old and we all loved him and will always still love him," said the boys' sister, Cherie Pierce.
A relative said the shotgun did have a lock on it, but the boys found the key, the Chicago Tribune reported. The family kept the weapon in the home as a security measure against burglars, said the boys' older sister, Yolanda Pierce, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
"Anytime that a gun is inside of a house, you can bet nine times out of 10, they're going to pick up this gun, it's going to go off and we're going to lose a child," said community activist Andrew Holmes, who prayed with the boy's grieving mother Monday morning.
The boy's brother is under investigation for the shooting, but it's possible that no charges will be filed.
"It was an accident; a terrible accident," said Cherie Pierce.
The incident comes just a little over a month after a 5-year-old boy shot and killed his twin brother with a gun they'd found in the home.