BOONE, N.C. -- A close friend of Appalachian State University student Jay Derby has been arrested for his death.
That friend, Galen Elijah Ruble, is charged with involuntary manslaughter. He is not a student at Appalachian State.
Police say he confessed to shooting Derby at a party early Sunday morning at Ruble's off-campus apartment, but says it was an accident because he didn't know the gun was loaded.
Police say Ruble has been extremely cooperative.
Police say Ruble went to his bedroom and took out a .50-caliber single shot, black powder muzzleloader.
"He did that with the intention of scaring Mr. Derby and those in attendance at the gathering, which was about seven people," said Capt. Jim Wilson with the Boone Police Department.
Police say Ruble attempted to discharge a percussion cap. That is what provides the spark to the rifle's gunpowder.
"He did say that he did not know the weapon was loaded," Wilson said.
Derby was 5 to 10 feet away from the rifle. The shot hit Derby in the face and killed him instantly.
Police say it is a tragedy between friends, but it is not accidental.
"Because it took some manipulation of the firearm to do that, to make it fire," Wilson said.
Police are expressing condolences to both families, knowing how close Derby and Ruble were. And they say it is a lesson of why people shouldn't play with guns.
Derby's funeral is planned for this weekend.