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

The teen allegedly shot his friend while playing with a gun they thought was empty

A Kelso 13-year-old (blurred, right) faces a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of his 13-year-old friend, November 21, 2017 (KOIN)
A Kelso 13-year-old (blurred, right) faces a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of his 13-year-old friend, November 21, 2017 (KOIN)

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — A 13-year-old boy was arrested on probable cause for manslaughter after investigators said he admitted to accidentally shooting and killing his friend.

Edgar Vazquez, 13, died on October 15 when Cowlitz County deputies said the boys were playing with a shotgun. According to investigators, the boys thought the gun was empty when the accused shooter pointed it and pulled the trigger.

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

The shooter made his first court appearance Tuesday, Nov. 21.

The prosecutor told KOIN 6 News the boy — 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 before making a formal charging decision.

“We certainly don’t think that he intended to kill his friend,” Chief criminal deputy Charles Rosezweig said. “He clearly did say it was an accident.”

The probable cause document for the teen’s arrest says he “recklessly caused the death of Edgar Vazquez….”

Deputies who responded to the shooting learned that he had fired the shotgun before that day and earlier that day saw a round eject from the gun, so he thought it was empty.

Officials said it’s unclear why, but he pointed the shotgun at Edgar and pulled the trigger.

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

Authorities said the shooter was “very distraught.” The 2 boys had been friends for a long time, according to deputies.

“We had hoped to interview him after he calmed down, but under the advice of the attorney he declined to be interviewed,” Rosezweig said. “So we just don’t have the answers to a lot of questions we’d love to ask.”

No adults were home but court documents said a third child was in the home at the time, but did not witness the shooting. She told deputies the boy “sounded very playful when she overheard [shooter] tell Vazquez to stop chasing him, which she estimated was 2 minutes prior to the shooting. After [she] heard what sounded like a balloon pop, [shooter] was screaming for her to call 911.”

“The lesson to be learned here, for everybody, is that you don’t point a firearm at somebody unless it’s for self defense for yourself or others,” Rosenzweig said.

The teen is being held in the Cowlitz County Juvenile Detention facility on $30,000 bail. His arraignment is scheduled for December 5.

Members of the boy’s family were in court Tuesday but declined to speak with the media.

“This is a tragedy for both families,” Rosezweig said.

Paul Rice, a pastor at Riverside community Church said everybody loved Edgar.

“A lot of times people will say that about somebody after they’re hone, but Edgar, I wouldn’t said that if he was right here,” Rice said.