13-year-old faces manslaughter in friend’s death

The Cowlitz County Youth Services Center, as seen on their website, November 21, 2017

KELSO, Wash. (KOIN) — A 13-year-old boy has been arrested but not yet formally charged with manslaughter after he shot and killed his friend on October 14, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said.

The teen made his first court appearance Tuesday in Cowlitz County and is being held on $30,000 bail. His arraignment is set for December 5.

The prosecutor told KOIN 6 News the youth — who KOIN 6 News is not identifying because he has not yet been charged and he is a juvenile — is being held under arrest with probable cause. Authorities are reviewing police reports to make a formal charging decision.

Officials are trying to get the youth to talk but he has so far declined.

Members of his family were in court Tuesday but declined to speak with the media.

On October 145, the teen called 911 and reported shooting his friend, Edgar Vazquez, while they were playing with a gun. According to investigators, the boys thought the gun was empty when he pointed it and pulled the trigger.

“He was surprised when the shotgun fired and pellets struck Edgar,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release.

Deputies had learned from [shooter] that he had fired the shotgun before that day. He told the deputies that day that he checked the gun and racked the action and saw a round eject from the shotgun. He racked the action a second time and based on what he saw he believed it was empty when he pointed it at Edgar and pulled the trigger. He was surprised when the shotgun fired and pellets struck Edgar. [Shooter] said that he did not intend to shoot Edgar, he said it was an accident. (It is not clear why he pointed the firearm at Edgar.)”

No adults were home at the time of the shooting.

Vazquez died at the scene from a single gunshot wound to his upper body when emergency responders were unable to save him.

Authorities said the shooter was “very distraught.” The two boys had been friends for a long time, according to police.

The teen is being held in the Cowlitz County Juvenile Detention Facility without bail and will appear in court Tuesday, November 21.

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