Derek Cosme, 15, of Glen Cove, died on Aug. 2 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said the boy and two friends were playing with a licensed, loaded handgun at a house on Williams Street when Derek accidentally shot himself in the temple. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police did not release the names of the two friends. They are both 16. Glen Cove Lt. Detective John Nagle said that one of them contacted a neighbor and asked for help after Derek was shot, and the neighbor called police.
Nassau County police spokesman Vincent Garcia said the boy did not live at the house, but the gun was licensed to a resident. He added that there are no laws governing the safekeeping of firearms in Nassau County. When gun owners receive their licenses from the county, they are advised that handguns should be kept in a lockbox or safe. If police determined during their investigation that the gun was not locked up, Garcia said, it will be removed and the license will be revoked.
Nagle confirmed that a female resident of the house, is a former Nassau County corrections officer, but he would not say whether it was her gun that killed Derek.
Derek was set to begin his junior year at Glen Cove High School next month. “We are saddened by this truly tragic event that has taken the life of one of our students,” said Glen Cove City Schools District Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families involved.” The district is offering support for any students or community members who feel they need someone to talk to.
Nagle said he could not recall the last time a child was killed by a gun in Glen Cove, and he has been on the job for 30 years.
“I’ve never had a case like this,” said Cornell Bouse, a Jericho criminal defense attorney, who is not involved in the case. But, he said, the potential liability in the case could be similar to that of a parent who allowes an underage drinking party at home and then leaves. “Later one of the kids at the party drives home impaired and dies in an accident.”
Bouse said it is up to the district attorney to decide whether to prosecute. “It’s a horrible thing that happened,” he said. “How could anyone know that these kids were going to play with a gun?”
Gunshot wounds are the third leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 17 in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. From 2012 to 2014, about 1,300 children died each year from firearm-related injuries, AAP statistics indicate.
Derek was the youngest of five children, and had four older sisters. He was affectionately known as “Go-Go.”
To donate to the family’s GoFundMe page for funeral costs, visit gofundme.com/e9mse-for-my-beloved-brother.