The teenager was identified as Deleon Alonso Smith, a Houston resident who had been scheduled to start college on Wednesday.
“According to a witness, the victim was handling a gun he believed to be unloaded. The gun then discharged and the victim was struck in the upper body. The investigation is continuing, with no charges filed at this time,” Houston police said in a statement.
Smith received a deadly wound to his neck.
The Texas victim’s uncle Eric Douglas told local KTRK-TV that he ran into the apartment and attempted to resuscitate his nephew, but he had already died.
“It’s the worst feeling of my life,” Douglas said.
Police believe that Smith found the gun and was taking pictures of himself while holding the weapon and posting them to social media websites the moment when the weapon discharged, killing him.
“A witness told police he was taking a selfie with a gun and the gun accidentally discharged,” Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said.
According to USA Today, Smith was attempting to take an Instagram selfie.
Smith’s cousin was in another room at the moment when the incident happened. The cousin confirmed to police the two found the gun earlier Tuesday.
There has been no information provided on who may have owned the gun.
Smith’s family told KHOU that the shooting was a complete accident and the victim never had any suicidal thoughts.
The Houston Police Department is still looking into the shooting, but “all indications are this is an accident” they said.
“It’s a numb feeling. It’s still unbelievable. Yesterday was my birthday and he came to wish me happy birthday, and now this kind of news,” Smith’s grandmother, Alma Douglas told KPRC local news.
There aren’t official statistics on selfie fatalities as of yet, but the number of “death selfies” has noticeably increased.
One of the recent cases that made headlines happened in July in Moscow, where a 21-year-old woman died in fall from a bridge while taking a selfie.
Another Russian woman, 21, severely wounded herself trying to take a selfie with 9-millimeter rubber-bullet pistol that she borrowed from a security guard at her office.
In May 2015, an 18-year-old Romanian teenager died when she attempted to take the “ultimate selfie,” posing on top of a train when her leg touched a live wire above. She was killed by an electrical surge of up to 27,000 volts.
In July 2015, San Diego man unsuccessfully attempted to take a selfie with a rattlesnake and was hospitalized after.
In July, Russian police produced a safety guide after a disturbing statistic showed 10 selfie-related deaths and 100 accidents occurring in the country in 2015 alone.
Earlier, a public movement in Russia suggested extracurricular lessons of “safe selfies” in schools to bring down the growing number of accidents caused by the new fad.