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Tampa teen arrested on manslaughter charge in shooting of friend’s girlfriend

The 16-year-old said he was playing with the gun after removing the magazine and didn’t realize there was a round in the chamber.
A 16-year-old has been arrested after he told police he was playing with a gun he thought was unloaded and accidentally shot his friend’s girlfriend, according to the Tampa Police Department.
A 16-year-old has been arrested after he told police he was playing with a gun he thought was unloaded and accidentally shot his friend’s girlfriend, according to the Tampa Police Department. [ Photo illustration by ASHLEY DYE and DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 8
Updated Oct. 8

A 16-year-old has been arrested after he told police he was playing with a gun he thought was unloaded and accidentally shot his friend’s girlfriend, according to the Tampa Police Department.

The incident took place at a home located in the 2600 block of Durham Street on Aug. 29, and the teen and his friend drove the woman, 18, to Tampa General Hospital around 10:04 p.m., police said in a news release Friday. The Times is not naming the teen because of his age. Police did not release the names of the victim or her boyfriend.

As a hospital employee put the woman in a wheelchair, he told police he asked the teen and his friend multiple times what happened, and they replied, “I don’t know.” The two then left in a white SUV, the employee told police.

About an hour later, the woman died.

Detectives said they spoke with the woman’s mother, who told them where her daughter had been before she was shot.

Detectives went to the 2600 block of Durham Street and got statements from the victim’s boyfriend and his mother, police said. They then applied for a search warrant, at which time the boyfriend amended his statement and said his girlfriend had been shot in his bedroom, according to the release.

The woman’s boyfriend also told police the name of the friend who was with him. Additional detectives were sent to the teen’s home, where they spoke with the teen and his mom, the Police Department said.

Detectives said the teen changed his story a couple of times, at one point claiming the woman had been playing with the gun and shot herself. After additional questioning, the teen said he was the one who had been playing with the gun, the release said.

The teen said he had been playing video games when he saw the firearm on the bed and removed the magazine, the Police Department said. Thinking the gun was unloaded, he started playing with it — not realizing there was a round in the chamber — and accidentally shot the woman, according to police.

He told police he and the woman’s boyfriend left the hospital because they were scared, and that they talked about what to do and decided to clean up and hide the gun, the release said.

The gun was turned over to the authorities, and it was submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a functionality and safety inspection. The FDLE said the firearm was functional and safety mechanisms were operating properly, police said.

The teen was arrested on Oct. 1 on charges of manslaughter with a weapon and tampering with evidence.

The investigation is ongoing.