Nothing like a horrible story about police shooting and killing an armed eighth-grader in a middle-school hallway to kick off the new year! Nothing like it, except... a horrible story about police shooting and killing an eighth grader armed with a pellet gun in his middle-school hallway.

Yes, the Brownsville, Texas incident that ended in the death of 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez yesterday officially got more tragic with the news that the kid was not even holding an actual gun (though, as you can see in the photo above, it sure looked like one):

The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun that closely resembled the real thing, police said late Wednesday, several hours after 15-year-old Jaime Gonzalez was repeatedly shot in a hallway at Cummings Middle School in Brownsville. No one else was injured.

"Why was so much excess force used on a minor?" the boy's father, Jaime Gonzalez Sr., asked The Associated Press outside the family's home Wednesday night. "Three shots. Why not one that would bring him down?"

His mother, Noralva Gonzalez, showed off a photo on her phone of a beaming Jaime in his drum major uniform standing with his band instructors. Then she flipped through three close-up photos she took of bullet wounds in her son's body, including one in the back of his head.

Police, unsurprisingly, insist that the shooting was justified; officers were called to the school over reports that a student had a gun, and by all indications they believed the weapon to be the genuine article. According to the Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez, Gonzalez "had plenty of opportunities to lower the gun and listen to the officers' orders, and he didn't want to."

So, jeez, what is there to say? (Except that all guns should be banned, forever, even things that look enough like guns to be mistaken for guns.) Expect a lot more accusations and ass-coverings and completely baseless speculation and vicious fighting in internet comments everywhere. 2012 is gonna be great.

[AP; images via AP]