Strange shooting accident

A bizarre accident in Pombal, near Querença, has left a teenage boy fighting for his life after his friend shot him in the chest. Alexandre Oliveira, 15, is now recovering in a Lisbon hospital following the incident, which has stunned neighbours and the families of the children involved.

The atmosphere in the household of the ‘gunman’ was one of disbelief. Natalino Viegas, father of the 14-year-old responsible for the shooting, explained what had happened. “I am a hunter and have three shotguns at home. They are kept locked away in a cupboard in total safety. My son has never even liked weapons. Once I took him with me on a hunting expedition, but he never really wanted to go. When he was at home he never touched any guns at all.” Viegas’ son apparently picked up the only one of the three shotguns that was loaded. “I had always taken great care to make sure that the guns were not loaded. But he managed to get a hunting rifle that I hadn’t used for two years. I believed I had removed three cartridges, but there was still one cartridge left from shooting wild boar,” said Viegas.

He said his son had told him exactly what happened. “They were watching a film on TV when my son told his friend ‘my father has a similar gun’. He went up to the cupboard and arrived back with a gun. He pulled the trigger without really knowing what he was doing and the gun went off. My son was only fooling around.”

The oldest sister of the boy who shot his friend, Carina Viegas, said her brother was in a state of profound shock. Manuel Viegas (no relation), President of the Querença Junta de Freguesia, says the boy must receive psychiatric help. “A health professional will have to convince him that what he did was a total accident and that he bears no criminal responsibility. I know the child in question well and I can testify that he is a peaceful adolescent whom I have never seen in a fight and who does not even like going out very much,” he said.

• The incident follows a similar shooting accident in Loulé in the Algarve recently. Two teenage boys were fooling around with a rifle, apparently emulating their favourite TV characters, when the gun went off, killing one of the boys. An initial police report suggested that there are no suspicious motives.