Shane Nichols was the seven-year-old “bug man,” or as his mother sometimes called him, the “critter bug.” He kept jars of insects, from beetles to lightning bugs, in his bedroom. He enjoyed walking along the nearby track and collecting caterpillars to save in the containers he later decorated and labeled “Shane Nichols’ bugs.” He was his family’s official stink-bug remover, and he looked forward to his daily task of vacuuming the pests inside his Virginia home.
“He had no fear, that’s for sure,” his mother, Jamie Everett, told msnbc. “I always thought he would be an exterminator, but he liked bugs.” Shane once calmly picked up a mouse from the floor of the living room and brought it outside. His best buddy was his cat, Jewels, that he often pushed around in his Tonka Truck and covered with a blanket to hold like a baby.
When he wasn’t on the lookout for bugs, Shane enjoyed camping in the yard with his grandfather and building forts with his older brother.
Inside, Shane played with the hundreds of Matchbox cars he owned, always organizing the toys in stacked piles when he finished playing. He loved to snuggle with his mom on the couch and watch any of his three favorite movies: “Garfield: The Movie,” “Marmaduke,” or “Toy Story 3.” He was picky about his footwear; he preferred cowboy boots or Skechers. If he didn’t like a pair of sneakers, he would hide one shoe from his mom so he could avoid wearing them.
Earlier this year, Shane was named “Bulldog of the Month” for demonstrating the most improvement in his first-grade class at Burnt Chimney Elementary School, which is located in his hometown of Wirtz, Virginia. He was proud of his award, and the T-shirt and pencils he earned for receiving the honor.
But completing his spelling worksheets continued to be a nightly battle, and Shane usually tried to find a distraction from his homework. He was crafty, though, and, to his mother’s dismay, Shane drew on household items like his wooden bed frame, toy boxes, and beach pails. But, she said, finding his doodles now “makes me smile.”
Shane was fatally shot accidentally by another child at a neighbor’s house in Wirtz, Virginia, on April 21, 2014.