Linda and Dominick Drumsta Jr. say the pain of one accident -- their son being shot -- is being amplified by another tragedy: their older son being charged with attempted murder.
The Drumstas spoke before their younger son, Ryan, underwent surgery Monday in Erie County Medical Center, where he later was listed in critical condition.
Ryan was shot Saturday afternoon in the kitchen of the family's home on Morse Road in Concord.
The Drumstas say Ryan, 16, was wrestling with his 19-year-old brother, Dominick III, known as Nick, who then pointed the gun at him.
The weapon went off, and a 20-gauge deer slug struck Ryan in the abdomen.
The parents called the shooting an accident, describing Ryan's leaving of a shell in the gun as an anomaly.
"It was two mistakes," the father said as he sat at a table in a hospital meeting room. "Ryan never should have left a shell in the gun, and Nick never should have pointed it at him."
The Drumstas said that, as they drove to Bertrand Chaffee Memorial Hospital in Springville, Ryan told his brother several times, "It's OK, Nick; it was an accident."
The Erie County Sheriff's Office doesn't see it that way. It has charged Nick Drumsta with second-degree at tempted murder and assault. He still was being evaluated Monday in the Erie County Holding Center; bail was set at $20,000.
The Drumstas say they want the charges dropped so both sons can begin to heal.
The slug missed Ryan's vital organs, they said, leaving about a quarter-sized wound. But it shattered internally, damaging his stomach and stomach cavity.
His parents said he had been in and out of consciousness, which they had been told was good while the surgery was being done.
They said when one of Ryan's friends from Springville Griffith Institute came to visit, Ryan responded, knuckle to knuckle, as they always have greeted each other.
The Drumstas said they hope Nick, who is completing an extra year of high school to finish vocational computer studies, can return home as soon as possible.
The Drumstas, who have two older daughters, Shannon and Heather, described their sons as different, although they share a love of the outdoors.
Ryan, they said, loves sports and hunting, as well as camping and fishing. He studies building and construction skills at the Ellicottville Board of Cooperative Educational Services center. A safe hunter, he normally wouldn't have left the gun loaded when he returned from hunting, they said.
While Nick also loves fishing and camping, he is more computer-oriented.
The Drumstas said no alcohol was involved and Nick has had no problems in his background. He has worked at Kissing Bridge, done volunteer work and served on mission trips with his church.
The Drumstas live in a small 150-year-old farmhouse on a country road between Kissing Bridge and Springville. They have a pair of beef cattle, three dogs, a goat and some cats on the 40-acre property.
The family had moved back into the house, where the father had grown up, 11 years ago.
Sheriff's Capt. Ron Kenyon defended the investigation.
"Everything we've found indicated it was not an accidental shooting," Kenyon said. He cited interviews with witnesses and a brief interview with Ryan before he went into surgery.
Part of the difference in stories relates to how the shooting unfolded. The Drumstas say the Sheriff's Office claims a moment of quiet separated the boys' rough-housing and the shotgun blast.
Their father said he was listening from his chair one room away and never heard that pause.
"It was not premeditated; it was a horrible accident," Linda Drumsta said. "We need to get Ryan well, and Nick, too. It's going to take a lot of healing."