Detective: Girl, 15, charged in teen’s death said she didn’t think gun was loaded

March 21, 2011

A 15-year-old girl hanging out with friends in a Southeast Washington apartment Sunday picked up what she thought was an unloaded handgun, playfully pointed it at another teen and pulled the trigger, a homicide detective testified Monday.

The girl told police in an interview that she had taken out the ammunition clip before she aimed the gun at an 18-year-old, Detective John Bevilacqua said.

“She removed the magazine, was playing with the gun, pointed it at [the victim], pulled the trigger and shot him,” Bevilacqua said. “She didn’t believe the gun was still loaded.”

Gary Gordon, 18, was killed. He was a senior at Anacostia High School who loved to play basketball and was serious about his studies, said Richard Williams, a friend who said he has known Gordon since kindergarten.

“He’s very funny, outgoing. Nobody can beat him in basketball. He was very nice on the three-point line,” said Williams, 18, also a senior at Anacostia. “I miss him a lot. I’m just very hurt by this.”

The detective testified as part of a hearing before Magistrate Judge Diana Harris Epps to determine whether there was enough evidence to hold the juvenile on manslaughter and weapons charges. Epps ruled that there was. The Washington Post generally does not name juvenile defendants unless they are charged as adults.

About 2 p.m. Sunday, police went to a second-floor apartment in the 2600 block of Stanton Road SE and found Gordon bleeding in a back bedroom. He was taken to a hospital and later died.

Bevilacqua offered this account in court on Monday: Gordon was shot in the back, on the left side, and the bullet passed through his body, according to the medical examiner.

Police found a second bullet hole at the scene that appeared to have come from a bullet fired from outside an apartment window, possibly in an attempt to cover up the shooting, Bevilacqua said.

One witness told police that Gordon was in a bedroom with the suspect and a third person. The witness had a romantic relationship of a few months with Gordon, and the witness and the juvenile suspect are friends.

Bevilacqua said he saw blood in the hallway and some drops on the bedroom carpet.

The detective said he brought the juvenile suspect to the police station for an interview. As she spoke to him, she was shaking, Bevilacqua said. She said she shot Gordon by accident.

Police think Gordon was shot with a 9mm handgun but had not recovered a weapon.

Assistant Attorney General Nilo Cuervo said that the girl did not plan to shoot Gordon but that she showed “gross disrespect for the life and safety” of the victim by pointing a gun at him.

Nancy Glass of the D.C. Public Defender Service said her client had taken steps to make sure that the gun was not loaded. But the judge called the juvenile’s actions a “grave misstep” and “complete loss of judgment.”

“One doesn’t play with an automatic weapon, loaded or unloaded,” Epps said.

The juvenile was to remain in custody until a court hearing Thursday.

Staff researcher Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

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