Teen accused in fatal shooting told investigators 11-year-old friend 'jumped' into line of fire

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Andrea Anderson
Thursday, August 21, 2014

ELKHORN--The 13-year-old town of Sharon boy accused of fatally shooting his friend in the head told a sheriff's detective his friend was five feet away and “jumped" into the line of fire while he was shooting at a target, according to court documents.

Eric Gutierrez, 11, town of Sharon, was shot above the right eye the afternoon of July 9 in a clearing behind a home at N1602 County K in the town of Sharon.

A juvenile delinquency petition filed Tuesday accuses the 13-year-old of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon.

Eric had spent the night at the 13-year-old's home on the property where the shooting occurred, according to the petition.

The teenager told Detective Robert Craig that he and Eric were in a clearing between a cornfield and barn “shooting some .22 handguns” at a tree. When Eric moved, the 13-year-old yelled Eric's name and tried to avoid hitting him by moving the handgun, the petition states.

“My best friend is dead because of me,” the 13-year-old told Craig, according to the petition.

Craig described the teenager as “very emotional” when he gave a statement the day after the shooting, according to the petition.

Eric was taken to Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville after Walworth County sheriff's deputies and Sharon police responded to a 911 call for a male with a gunshot wound to the head. Eric was declared brain dead July 10, a day before his organs were donated to at least six people.

Eric's family has told The Gazette via phone and the public via Facebook that the shooting was an accident and that Eric was a fun and loving child.

A Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center trauma surgeon told officers the gunshot wound was not self-inflicted because “it would have been nearly impossible to hold the gun in (Eric's) hand and cause the bullet to enter and travel the way it did,” the petition reads.

The gunshot caused Eric's death, according to the autopsy.

When an officer searched the 13-year-old's home with the teenager's father, two .22-caliber handguns were found missing.

The deputy who found Eric in the field discovered “several spent .22-caliber casings” around the area of a plastic bottle set in the mud about 20 yards from Eric's body, the petition states.

Eric was found “lying on the ground face up,” according to the petition.

The 13-year-old “was covered in blood” when another officer arrived and found him on a porch with three family members.

The grandmother of the 13-year-old said he ran to the house frantically and said “there had been an accident and that he needed the phone,” according to the petition.

When officers searched a barn on the residence, two .22-caliber handguns were found wrapped in a snowmobile cover with their safeties off.

Eric's uncle, Donny Orick, has asked that the people who did not keep the guns locked up be held accountable.

“I'm not an advocate for taking guns away,” Orick told The Gazette earlier. “I just want to see more responsibility taken. And when something like this happens, I like to see people held accountable when it could have been prevented.”

The 13-year-old is scheduled to appear in court at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, at the Walworth County Judicial Center. It was not clear how much punishment the teen could face, and court officials were not available to clarify Thursday afternoon. Juveniles charged with serious crimes are often ordered held in juvenile detention until they become adults.



Last updated: 3:07 pm Thursday, August 21, 2014

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