A heartbroken community is preparing to say goodbye to a Goochland army reservist. He was killed one week ago, in what is described as a Russian roulette-style game. His mother is now speaking out ahead of this weekend's memorial service.
The family says a large military presence is expected at this weekend's memorial.
We now have the 911 tapes that shed light on what happened to 20-year-old Christopher Ryan Benson. He was known as Ryan to those closest to him.
"My friend has shot himself in the head," said the caller.
"Ok. On purpose or on accident?" asked the 911 operator.
"On accident," replied the caller. "I don't know. All I heard was a gunshot go off, and I looked over and he had fallen."
Benson's mother was still too emotional to show her tear stained face on camera, but she wanted share a few words about her son.
"I didn't want to believe it," recalls Melinda about the night she got the dreadful call. "But it was like in my heart I knew because I was getting calls from everybody."
Benson was sometimes called avatar because of his 6 foot 3 stature and his even bigger smile.
"Everybody loved him," said Melinda. "He didn't meet anybody that didn't like him. He had a smile that could just light up the world!"
That light was dimmed after police say Ryan and a group of friends, most of them underage, ventured down a dark winding stretch off Camelback Road for a fun night of drinking.
"Are you upset?" we asked mom.
"Yes. I'm real upset," she replied.
"What upsets you the most?" we asked.
"That someone was stupid enough to bring a gun," said Melinda. "And play stupid games."
"What was he playing with?" asked the 911 operator. "What kind of gun?
"It was a .22 pistol," said the caller.
"I'm just in shock," said Melinda. "He's not the type of person to do what they said happened, and I just don't understand."
Ryan's 9-year-old sister now wears her brother's wristwatch and dog tags.
"I'm just numb," said Melinda. "It was hard leaving the hospital, and knowing that he is never going to come home."
The family wanted us to note Ryan was an organ donor. The army reservist was planning to head to Egypt for training this year.
That memorial service is this Saturday at 4:30pm. It will be held at Goochland High School. That is located at 3250 River Road West.
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