Boy aged 16 dies in village 'shooting'


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The Independent Online

A teenage boy has died after a reported gun incident in a quiet village.

Police were called to the sudden death of the 16-year-old at a property in Cobham, Kent, at 10.30pm on Friday.

The death of the boy is not being treated as suspicious, police said.

A Kent Police spokesman said: “Police were called at 10.30pm on 8 March to a sudden death of a 16-year-old boy at a private address in Cobham. The death is being treated as non-suspicious but unexplained at this time.”

The boy has been identified as Charlie Booth, a Year 11 pupil at leading independent school Gad's Hill, based at the former home of Charles Dickens in Higham.

A South East Coast Ambulance Service spokesman said two clinicians attended the property.

He said: "We attended a patient in the Watling Street area but he was pronounced dead at the scene."

A school statement said: "Gad's Hill School is united in grief today after the announcement of the death of one of its pupils.

"It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that the school, in Higham, learnt of the sudden, untimely and unexplained death of one of its Year 11 students, 16-year-old Charlie Booth, who was fatally injured at his home on Friday March 8."

News of Charlie's death was broken to pupils at a school assembly this morning.

The talented rugby and football player was described as an "excellent ambassador for our school" whose death has left his family, teachers and the local community "struggling to make sense" of what happened.

Gad's Hill School headmaster David Craggs said: "I am sure you will all react with shock and deep sadness at this news.

"Charlie was after all a remarkable young man, who had such a bright future ahead of him.

"Our first thoughts are for Charlie's family and I can say with confidence that they have the heartfelt support and condolences of the whole Gad's Hill community.

"It is at times like this - to quote recent comments by President Barack Obama - we will all hug our own children a little closer over the next few days."

Charlie joined Gad's Hill in its junior school and was said to be an "outstanding student", contributing to all areas of school life, including competing in cross-country events.

Mr Craggs added: "He was an excellent ambassador for our school, an NCO in the school's Combined Cadet Force and was due to embrace his passion for adventure and his love for the outdoors on a once-in-a-lifetime school expedition to Alaska this summer.

"Charlie was able to distinguish himself above other cadets, showing great strength, initiative and leadership, and he was a great friend to so many.

"Charlie was a friendly, enthusiastic, mature and self-confident student with so much to live for, attributes that make this tragedy even more difficult to comprehend.

"He will be greatly missed.

"His loss leaves his family, our school and the wider Gad's community in mourning and struggling to make sense of what has unfolded.

"We have kept the school open today as a mark of respect to Charlie and his family and to also to unite in grief, helping and supporting his classmates and friends who may have been affected by his sudden death.

"Charlie's legacy will live on in our fond memories of him and in the eternal love of his family.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his friends today."