A Des Moines teenager died this week while handling a gun.

Des Moines Police Sergeant Joe Frentress says 17-year-old James Shorter was with his girlfriend at the time and at least two of his relatives were nearby. “Talking to detectives, it sounds like it’s an accidental shooting from what they’ve determined,” Frentress said.

It happened Monday on Des Moines’ east side. Shorter was in a car when the gun went off. “What (detectives) determined from talking to the family there – he was in the car with his girlfriend, messing around with this gun and at some point, the gun went off and struck him in the neck,” Frentress said. The teen was taken to a hospital, where he died during surgery. While the shooting has been ruled an accident, there are still some unanswered questions.

“Nobody was aware that he had a handgun,” Frentress said. “So, they’re trying to figure out where he got it from and the background on the gun, I guess.”