Former JU player dies in accidental shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 21-year-old former Jacksonville University student died Monday night of an accidental gunshot wound.

Ray Mangiafico, who played on the JU Dolphins football team, left the school after the fall 2013 semester. Mangiafico is a graduate of Baker County High School.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office responded about 9:30 p.m. Monday to Dahlia Road in Northwest Jacksonville. A man said he was asleep in a downstairs apartment when he was awoken by Mangiafico banging on his door, according to a police report.

The man opened his door and Mangiafico told him to call 911 because he accidentally shot himself, according to the report.

Mangiafico's parents said their son was on the computer on his desk and leaned back in his chair while cleaning his gun when it went off, hitting him in the stomach.

The man downstairs told police he was a longtime acquaintance of Mangiafico, and that the 21-year-old lived in the upstairs apartment.

Police said when they arrived, Mangiafico was lying in the doorway of the downstairs apartment, alert and conscious with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his stomach. Mangiafico told police he accidentally shot himself while handling his 9mm handgun.

Police said they went upstairs and saw a black handgun on the living room floor.

Mangiafico was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where he later died.

Mangiafico's mother said her son had the gun for his job as a security guard. She said the gun had several safety features, which he had showed her in the past.

Now Mangiafico's parents are packing up his jerseys and trophies for his funeral.

"Not only was he my son, he was my best friend," Joey Mangiafico said. "I'm really going to miss you, son. I will see you again. The Lord told me I would. Rest in peace, buddy."

Friends were remembering Mangiafico by posting on his Facebook page following his death. They called him a gentle giant who always put others' needs above his own.

"RIP You were and (will) forever be a 'ray of light,'" Barbara Wratchford wrote.

"If I had to live my life over again, I would want it to be like his because he was just perfect," Joey Mangiafico said. "I'll miss you, son."

"I'm so proud that he affected so many, and he's going to continue affecting people because they're going to take whatever's left over after the funeral that we've collected and put a scholarship in his name, and somebody will benefit from that every year," said Cynthia Mangiafico, Ray's mother.

Ray's father said he wants people who use guns to be careful.

"Don't let it end up like my son's did. And I know he would want to say the same thing if he could," Joey Mangiafico said.

Green Acres Sporting Goods Manager John Farhat reminds gun owners to make sure the weapon is not loaded before cleaning it, which is more than just pulling out the magazine.

"You also want to verify visually that there's no round in the chamber because that's the one that would actually fire and cause an accident," Farhat said.

Then you can wipe down the gun with anti-rust oil or have it cleaned at a gun shop. Even if the safety is on, meaning the red dot is not showing, it's most important to make sure there's no round in the chamber.

"He's my son, he's my world, he's my heart, and a big part of my heart's gone," Joey Mangiafico said.

JU issued a statement Wednesday that reads, "We are greatly saddened to hear of reports related to former JU student and former varsity football player Ray Mangiafico, who died after an accident at his home Monday evening. The university sends its deepest condolences to Mr. Mangiafico's family and friends, and we will be sending the appropriate formal sympathies once final arrangements have been made."

A fund has been set up to help raise money for Mangiafico's funeral expenses.

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