Nearly 100 people gathered Friday night to celebrate the life of a Killingly teen killed last week in what police say was an accidental shooting.
Friends and family members stood together at Davis Park to remember 16-year-old Matthew Regula who was shot at his girlfriend’s house when a rifle accidentally discharged Aug. 5, according to police. Many said they’re devastated and are working through grief and anger.
“He was just a gentle guy,” said Gahrett Bond, a friend of the family and first responder who was called to the shooting scene. “He was always there. He’d give you the shirt off his back.”
Mourners lit candles and shared memories of Regula, describing him as kind and happy-go-lucky. They’re still shocked he’s gone.
“My heart was torn out. It’s like losing a brother,” Bond said.
Twenty-two-year-old Kyle Carney is accused of shooting Regula while carrying a rifle through the house on Kenneth Drive. He’s been charged with second-degree manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
Regula’s friends say they don’t think it was an accident.
“That’s another thing that hurts, you know? Thinking that maybe he died scared,” said another friend, Daniel McMaster.
Friends and family say they’re overwhelmed with the support they’ve received from their community. They ended the vigil by asking everyone to follow Regula’s lead and be kind in his memory.
"Accept people for who they are like Matthew did. Keep his name alive," said Bond.
The community is planning fundraisers to benefit the Regula family, including one at the Music Lady Cafe at 6 Green Hollow Road in Moosup at 1 p.m. Aug. 24.
A can and bottle drive and bake sale will take place Sept. 13 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Thompson Town Hall. To donate a raffle basket or baked goods, call Dawn at 860-634-4900.