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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa police arrested a 14-year-old boy Monday for allegedly shooting a 12-year-old and another teenager while playing with a gun, according to a release.
Police said they responded to a home on East 111th Avenue on Jan. 8, 2023, after 12-year-old James Lett Jr. and a 15-year-old boy were both shot in the head.
Investigators said the two victims were in a bedroom when the suspect, a 14-year-old boy, got a gun, pointed it at the two teenagers, and fired a single bullet at them.
The bullet first struck James in the head before hitting the 15-year-old in the mouth. Both were taken to a hospital, but James died from his injury.
“After conducting extensive interviews with multiple juvenile witnesses who were present at the time of the shooting, it was learned that one of the juveniles brought a firearm into the home,” the department said. “Multiple juveniles had been arming themselves with the firearm, displaying it in a reckless manner, and at times, pointing the firearm at one another for fun.”
After interviewing the suspect, officers learned that he thought the gun was unloaded when he pointed it at the other two boys.
“This is a tragic reminder of the fact that it is essential for gun owners to practice safe storage of firearms. Had these juveniles not had easy access to guns in the home, a young man would still be alive today,” said Interim Police Chief Lee Bercaw. “It is critical for parents, guardians, and gun owners to ensure that firearms are stored in a place that is inaccessible to children, out of sight, and locked at all times.”
Slatrina Jackson, the mother of James Lett, said she was at work when she learned her son was shot. When she got to the hospital where he was being treated, her son had already died.
“My son got killed at his friend’s house, not in the streets, not ripping and running,” Jackson told 8 On Your Side on Jan. 10.
The 14-year-old has been charged with felony manslaughter with a weapon.
The Tampa Police Department wished to remind residents that it offers free gun locks to prevent children from accessing firearms and causing harm.