“I thought of him more as a brother than just a best friend,” Cory Lei Ray told the court Monday as pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter.

Ray, 25, must now serve one year probation for accidentally shooting Jacob Pfeifer-Johnson earlier this year. The charge is first-degree misdemeanor, though Ray can no longer own or possess a firearm.

Cory Ray, 25. Image via Crimewatch.

Ray and Pfeifer-Johnson, 24, had just returned from Neshaminy Mall on Jan. 16, 2019. The two life-long friends were having casual conversation in Ray’s kitchen at his home on Indigo Drive.

Then, Ray removed his legally owned handgun from its holster in an attempt to clear the weapon, as he had done many times before. But the Bristol Township man forgot to remove the loaded magazine from his H&K P2000 9mm.

A round discharged from the firearm, striking Pfeifer-Johnson in the chest. Despite Ray contacting authorities and his own attempts to administer aid, Pfeifer-Johnson died fifteen hours later.

“Mr. Pfeifer-Johnson’s death was a tragedy that would have been avoided if not for the series of errors Mr. Ray made while attempting to unload his handgun and make it safe,” said Deputy District Attorney David A. Keightly Jr. “However, given the extensive cooperation and genuine remorse displayed by Mr. Ray, as well as the wishes of the victim’s family, we felt that this was an appropriate sentence.”

Ray told the court he remains friends with many of the victim’s family members. He must also pay $5,133.31 in restitution to the Pennsylvania Crime Victims’ Compensation Assistance Fund.