MONTAGUE –– Montague County authorities believe the death of 18-year-old Denton Guyer student Nathan Maki was accidental, and that his friend didn't mean to shoot the popular football standout.
Maki was found in a rural pasture off Well Service Road north of Bowie on Saturday night. Sheriff Paul Cunningham said the teen was shot once in the head. He died that night at Bowie Memorial Hospital.
Cunningham said Maki was camping with three friends, a 17-year-old male and two 18-year-old women. Michael Bryce Underwood was arrested at the scene for consumption of alcohol by a minor. The two young women fled, but have since been located and questioned, the sheriff said.
"You've got to understand the juvenile mind, I guess. They're high school kids, their best friend just died, there's alcohol involved; they were scared, they just fled the scene," Cunningham said. "It's not uncommon."
Underwood, who has not been charged in Maki's death, was "visibly upset" when speaking with authorities, the sheriff told reporters. The four had planned to go dove hunting on Sunday morning. Authorities seized the rifle that they believe Underwood fired that caused Maki's death.
"It's a very tragic incident," Cunningham said.
The investigation is still ongoing and has not been submitted to the district attorney. After it's complete, Cunningham said the D.A. will present the case to a grand jury, which will then decide whether to indict anyone in the death.
Nearby neighbor and volunteer firefighter Lynn Preuninger said he and his wife rushed to help when they heard the shot.
"It looked like an accident," Preuninger said. "[Underwood] was swinging [the gun] on an animal, and swung too far when he pulled the trigger."
He said the property belongs to Underwood's grandfather.
Possible charges include criminally negligent homicide or deadly conduct, according to District Attorney Paige Williams. She expects the grand jury to hear the case later this month.
Maki was a senior at Denton Guyer High School who played fullback for the football team. His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Cross Timbers Church in Argyle.
Mourners are asked to donate to the Nathan Maki Benefit Fund at any Northstar Bank of Texas rather than give flowers.