WEST JORDAN, Utah, July 17, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Police say the shooting early Saturday that left a 13-year-old boy dead and his 15-year-old male friend booked into juvenile detention on a manslaughter charge began as two friends who went to a church parking lot to examine a gun they had gotten their hands on.
The shooting happened at about 1:40 a.m. in a car parked outside an LDS Church ward house at 5208 Cyclamen Way, in West Jordan.
The 15-year-old called 911, Lt. Richard Bell, West Jordan Police Department, told reporters at a 3 p.m. Saturday news conference.
“When they arrived, they found a 13-year-old male who had been shot and was deceased,” Bell said. “As we began investigating and digging into the case and determining what had happened, really what we found is it was just truly an unfortunate tragic accident.
“What we had is, we had two friends, a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old, who had agreed to meet up and sneak out, and one of them has brought a firearm. They were manipulating and they’re looking at it, you know, obviously not being safe, and the 15-year-old ended up shooting and killing his 13-year-old friend.”
Bell did not answer questions regarding the model of the handgun, which boy had obtained the gun or how it was obtained, or who owns the car in which the boys were sitting in the church parking lot when the gun went off.
He also did not say how the boys got to the church, but did say he believes they live in the vicinity.
Police will not be releasing the names of the victim or suspected shooter to protect the privacy of the families, Bell said.
“During the course of the investigation, it is not our belief that he intended to kill his friend,” Bell said of the juvenile suspect. “However, we did determine that there was some criminal culpability, and he was booked on the manslaughter charges.
“It’s a tragic accident and, you know, we don’t want to drag these poor victims through the mud.”
Bell said he would advise everyone who owns firearms to talk to their children about gun safety, to store ammunition away from guns, and to follow basic gun safety tips.