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N.H. teen who shot self undergoes surgery

Relative foresees difficult recovery

A 14-year-old boy who shot himself in the face Friday in a crowded school cafeteria in Walpole, N.H., has undergone surgery at a New Hampshire hospital and will have a difficult recovery, a relative said yesterday.

“His vitals are all fine,’’ said Christopher Mack, 57, of Walpole, a second cousin of the boy, Hunter Mack.

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Christopher Mack said he spoke with Hunter’s father, David, on Saturday night. He said the teen was in a medically induced coma at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., after having surgery Friday night for significant facial injuries.

Rick Adams, a hospital spokesman, would not confirm that the teen had been admitted, saying only that his name was not on a list of patients whose conditions he was authorized to discuss.

Mack shot himself in the cafeteria of Walpole Elementary School, where he is enrolled in the eighth grade, during lunch hour, according to local officials.

Christopher Mack said yesterday that his cousin shot himself with a 20-gauge shotgun.

Cheshire County Attorney Peter Heed, whose office is investigating the shooting, would not discuss the weapon during a brief phone interview yesterday or say how the youth obtained it.

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He also declined to discuss how Hunter Mack may have brought the weapon into the school, saying that remains part of the investigation.

Asked if criminal charges were possible, Heed said, “There’s nothing anticipated at this point,’’ though a final determination has not been made.

Investigators are looking into whether the teen was having a relationship issue before the shooting, among other factors, he said, but he would not elaborate. He confirmed that the shooting occurred shortly after 11 a.m. during an early lunch period, in the presence of about 70 other students.

Christopher Mack said he did not know how long the teen was expected to be hospitalized.

A school dance that had been planned for Friday night was canceled, said Debra Livingston, superintendent of the Fall Mountain Regional School District.

She declined to comment when asked if Hunter Mack had recently had relationship issues or any problems tied to the dance.

Livingston said on Saturday that teachers at the school will meet with district counselors this morning before classes begin to discuss ways to help students process the shooting.

Students will discuss it with their homeroom teachers and counselors when they arrive in the morning, Livingston said.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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