WILMINGTON, Ill. — A 15-year-old in northeast Illinois was accidentally shot and killed by his 17-year-old cousin after the older boy stumbled while holding a rifle he’d grabbed to investigate what the boys thought was an intruder in a home attached to a church, the Will County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

The teens were in a bedroom linked to Wilmington’s Christian Faith Center during a sleepover just before midnight Tuesday when they thought they heard someone breaking in. The 15-year-old was leading the way when his cousin, the pastor’s son, tripped on a fan cord and the gun went off, Sheriff Mike Kelley told reporters.

The younger boy was shot once in the upper body and was later pronounced dead at a Kankakee hospital.

The pastor legally owned the rifle and the 17-year-old had a valid firearm owners’ identification card, authorities said. The teenager cooperated with detectives who questioned him. He was not charged.

“It was determined that this was a tragic accident,” Kelley told reporters at a news conference in Joliet. Neither boy’s identity was released.

In hindsight, Kelley said, it would have been better had the older teen thought to go to his father first.

But, he said, “it’s hard to tell somebody what they should be thinking when they think somebody’s breaking into their residence.”

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