CHICAGO — A juvenile has been charged in what police have ruled as an accidental shooting death of a 14-year-old boy in Prospect Heights.
The juvenile was charged with involuntary manslaughter and taken to the Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago Sunday morning, according to police.
After the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the 14-year-old boy’s death a homicide Sunday, the Prospect Heights Police Department concluded their investigation shortly thereafter.
According to police, four juveniles and an adult male were hanging out at an apartment on the 500 block of Piper Lane with no parent home at the time. The juveniles were passing around an unloaded pistol and taking turns ‘dry-firing’ the gun.
One of the juveniles then inserted a loaded magazine and chambered a round before taking the magazine out a few moments later. One of the juveniles — forgetting the chambered round, or not knowing that a pistol can fire without a chambered magazine — pointed the weapon at the 14-year-old and pulled the trigger, believing they would be ‘dry-firing’ the gun.
A single round was fired, hitting the 14-year-old in the chest and eventually killing him.
The adult male immediately fled the apartment after the 14-year-old was shot.
Police said the other three juveniles gave similar statements to detectives Friday when they were questioned right after the shooting, implicating the 19-year-old man as the accidental shooter.
On Saturday morning though, detectives went to the 19-year-old man’s residence and took him into custody as a part of the death investigation. Police said the 19-year-old was cooperative and agreed to speak to detectives without representation of an attorney.
The 19-year-old denied pointing and shooting a gun, and admitted to running from the apartment — but only out of fear — according to police. The 19-year-old was then released from the police station.
Later Saturday, the three juvenile witnesses and their parents were called back to the police station for additional questioning. It was at this point previous statements made by the three juveniles began to change “drastically,” according to police.
During the interview process, one of the juvenile witnesses implicated another juvenile who was also originally interviewed as a witness. The former juvenile witness — who was inside the apartment at the time of the incident, police said — changed their statement and confessed to being the shooter.
According to detectives, all evidence, statements and the crime scene point toward this incident being “a tragic accident.”