Friends, teachers mourn teen shot in hunting accident

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 9, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; More than 100 students gathered Sunday night for a private memorial at St. Mary Basilica to remember their classmate, Bennett Jeansonne Jr., who was killed Saturday in Louisiana.

Jeansonne, 14, an A student and athlete at Cathedral School, was accidentally shot by a cousin while they were hunting, said West Feliciana Parish Sheriff J. Austin Daniel.

Friends and teachers called Jeansonne a model teenager. The son of Bennett Sr. and Amanda Jeansonne, he was to have become an Eagle Scout on Sunday.

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&uot;He was the sweetest kid you could ever meet,&uot; said Mike Roboski, Jeansonne’s religion teacher at Cathedral.

Roboski was the leader of a peer ministry group in which Jeansonne took part. Members of the group are trained to counsel other students, and they also perform skits for different classes.

&uot;It’s just amazing how one little person in his young life could touch so many people,&uot; Roboski said.

Rocky Kettering, Jeansonne’s soccer coach, called the teen &uot;the heart and soul&uot; of the team.

&uot;He was just the most dependable person,&uot; said Kettering, who watched Jeansonne make his first varsity soccer goal Friday night.

&uot;He was our anchor. How do you go on without him? I think we do the opposite &045; we go on with him. We keep his spirit alive within us, and he becomes our 12th man. Everything we do now is with him and not without him.&uot;

According to the sheriff, Jeansonne was killed when a cousin apparently mistook him for a deer.

The incident took place in the northern tip of West Feliciana Parish, one mile from the Mississippi state line, Daniel said.

Jeansonne and a 14-year-old cousin were walking separately back to their vehicle at about 5:30 p.m., Daniel said.

The cousin saw some movement near a pond approximately 75 to 80 yards away and shot with a 30-30 rifle in the direction of the movement. &uot;He obviously thought (Jeansonne) was a deer,&uot; Daniel said.

Jeansonne was pronounced dead on arrival at Field Memorial Hospital in Centreville.

At Sunday night’s impromptu service, Roboski said, friends shared &uot;Bennett stories &045; happy, funny stories.&uot;

&uot;The kids said, ‘If Bennett were here, he would be trying to cheer us all up,’&uot; Roboski said.

Jeansonne’s funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Mary Basilica.