Chat room users may have seen fatal Neb. shooting
Police would like to know why the shooting wasn't reported sooner by someone in the chat room
By Josh Funk
OMAHA, Neb. — Visitors to an online video chat room may have watched a 19-year-old man fatally shoot himself in the head and investigators are scouring the man's computer to try to identify possible witnesses, police said Tuesday.
Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey said the shooting was reported late Saturday morning by a Florida man who said he had been in the chat Friday evening before logging off for the night. The man said when he logged back in Saturday morning, people were talking about the shooting.
The Florida man, who police said knew the man in Nebraska, called Bellevue police. Officers went to the suburban Omaha home where the man lived with his parents and found his body in his room, Stacey said.
Investigators are working to determine whether the shooting, which they believe happened about 3 a.m., was a suicide or an accident, Stacey said.
"This is the first one I've ever heard about like this," Stacey said.
The Nebraska man's computer is being examined for clues about who may have been logged into the chat room when the shooting happened, Stacey said. Investigators won't know for sure whether anyone witnessed the shooting until they determine how to contact people behind their chat room usernames.
Stacey said he didn't know details about the type of chat room the man was logged into, but that it appeared to be just a place where the Nebraska man just talked with friends.
Police would like to know why the shooting wasn't reported sooner by someone in the chat room, Stacey said, but he added they might not have known anything about the man other than his username or whether what they witnessed was real.
He said investigators don't yet know if the shooting was recorded, but added he hoped not so that it would not be posted online.
A 19-year-old Florida college student committed suicide in 2008 by taking a drug overdose while people watched him online and some egged him on. Some viewers called police, but it was too late to save the young man. In 2007, a 42-year-old man in England committed suicide by hanging while broadcasting to an Internet chat room via webcam. A chat room user notified police, who found him dead.
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