Officials in Tennessee say that a father and his 12-year-old son died over the weekend after an AR-15 assault-style rifle accidentally discharged, causing a fire and then a series of explosions in a room full of ammunition.
WBBJ-TV reported on Monday that Tennessee State Bomb and Arson Investigators, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Henderson County Sheriff’s Department were all looking into the Sunday deaths 48-year-old Terry York and his son, Luke.
According to family members, York’s AR-15 rifle accidentally discharged while he was in a back room of their home showing it off to some friends. The discharge ignited a small fire, which “did not seem too threatening at first,” they told WBBJ-TV. The blaze apparently grew out of control after Luke entered the room to help his father put out fire.
That’s when witnesses started hearing explosions.
“It was just like one right after another,” neighbor Kathleen Glass recalled. “One explosion right after another. I just don’t have the words for it because I can not imagine having to go through something like this.”
The family said that York stored a lot of ammunition in the room where the fire started, but officials insisted that they would conduct a full investigation before coming to any conclusions.
“Any loss of life is tragic, when a child loses their life it hit the community hard,” Henderson County Sheriff Brian Duke explained. “There was maybe an accidental discharge of the weapon from there we haven’t really determined how the fire started but that is what State Bomb and Arson officials are looking into.”
Investigators did say that York and his son were discovered just steps away from the exit, but may have been blinded by the smoke while trying to escape.
“I can’t imagine the suffering mentally, emotionally and physically that they are going through right now,” Duke said of the family.
Watch this video from WBBJ-TV, broadcast Aug. 19. 2013.