Jayden Jawan Choate loved to ride bikes, sing and dance

By Jeff Truesdell
Updated June 21, 2016 12:25 PM
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Credit: Fayette County Sheriff s Office

An Iowa community is mourning the loss of a 4-year-old boy who fatally shot himself in the head Friday while left in a home without adult supervision.

“It’s a sad situation,” Fayette County Sheriff Marty Fisher tells PEOPLE. “Obviously with firearms, with children in the house, persons should make sure that they have gun locks or else secured in a gun safe. Obviously if children are going to be around firearms, parents needs to talk to them.”

Jayden Jawan Choate loved to ride his bike, loved to sing and dance, and recently had completed preschool for 4-year-olds, according to his online obituary. His favorite color was red; his favorite song was “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.

“Jayden had a bright smile and is loved and missed by many,” the online tribute reads.

According to the sheriff’s office, Jayden, of Fort Atkinson, was visiting a home on Main Street in Elgin along with his mother, 2-year-old brother, 5-month-old sister and a family friend.

Deputies responded at 2:47 p.m. Friday to the call about the boy “who had possibly shot himself and was suffering from a gunshot wound,” the sheriff’s office stated in a news release.

The release continues: “Preliminary information indicates that Jayden was inside the residence alone with his two siblings when the shooting took place.”

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He was taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead from the gunshot wound to his head, the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner concluded. The sheriff’s office reports the shooting “appears to be accidental.”

The sheriff did not reveal the type of gun used in the incident.

The family held a private graveside ceremony, and the community turned out in a candlelight vigil on Sunday to celebrate Jayden’s life.

“He is curious, he is smart, he is funny, he is a friend to many people; if he saw someone who needed help, he would go right to them and help them out,” Superintendent Clark Goltz of the Turkey Valley Schools, where Jayden was enrolled in preschool, told KWWL. “He is the kind of young person you want every child to start with, to grow, and to become a young man but he didn’t have that opportunity.”

“You say your heart is broken, our hearts are shattered,” Goltz said. “That is the only way to describe it.”