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Boy charged with killing teen thought gun's safety was on, police say

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WEST VALLEY CITY — A 14-year-old boy charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a 15-year-old while they were on a lunch break from school told police he thought the gun's safety was on, according to court documents.

On Feb. 5, Marquez Grajeda, 15, was shot in the head from close range and killed while inside a bedroom at a house at 1347 W. 2320 South. Several teens and adults were inside the house at the time of the incident. Marquez did not live at that house.

West Valley police have previously said the shooting was not believed to be intentional.

The first arriving officers at the house found "everyone involved was hysterical and hard to understand," an officer noted in one of two search warrant affidavits filed in 3rd District Court. The officers were directed to a second-floor bedroom where they found a 20-year-old man "holding the victim."

Despite life-saving efforts by both police and doctors, the teen died as a result of his injuries shortly after being taken to a local hospital.

"Multiple" juveniles were taken to the West Valley Police Department to be interviewed. One juvenile told investigators that he had brought a Taurus 9mm handgun with him to the house, the warrant states.

"(He) stated he had set down the gun and his friend, a juvenile male … had picked up the gun and, despite … telling him the gun was loaded, (the boy) pointed the gun directly at (Marquez's) head and pulled the trigger," according to the affidavit.

Charging documents say the gun was lying on a bed when the boy picked it up "and was waving it around." Another boy told him "to be careful because the gun was loaded" before he pointed it at Marquez and fired.

Police found the suspected gunman at his home and transported him to the department to be questioned with his mother present. He told investigators that he went to the house that day "with some friends to smoke," the charges state.

He told detectives that he "believed the gun had a safety which was on. (He) stated he pointed the gun directly at (Marquez) and pulled the trigger. He stated the gun went off and the bullet struck (him)," according to the warrant.

(He) stated he had set down the gun and his friend, a juvenile male ... had picked up the gun and, despite ... telling him the gun was loaded, (the boy) pointed the gun directly at (Marquez's) head and pulled the trigger.


"(The boy) stated that he had never handled a gun before and that he thought the safety was on when he accidentally shot (Marquez)," charging documents state.

The boy, whom KSL has chosen not to name at this time, said he left the house with another teen after the shooting. That teenager drove him "to a small body of water near TRAX train tracks in the area of 2851 S. Redwood Road, where he threw the gun into the water," according to the chages.

On Feb. 7, police announced that a Utah Highway Patrol dive team had recovered the gun believed to have been used in the shooting in a canal near 2700 South and 1400 West.

Detectives have seized three guns as part of their investigation: two from inside the home where the shooting occurred and the one from the canal. One of the guns recovered in the house belongs to the homeowner, according to police.

The 20-year-old man who was found by police attending to Marquez told investigators that he had a .40 caliber handgun in his room and that he "told people that the weapon was loaded and not to mess with it," the warrant states.


The man also found a gun next to Marquez and secured it in his room before police arrived, the warrant states. The warrant does not give more details about that gun, but does indicate that a Glock 27 .40-caliber gun and a 9mm handgun were seized from the house.

The 14-year-old boy is charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a third-degree felony.

According to Utah law, a charge of manslaughter can be filed if prosecutors believe someone recklessly caused the death of another person.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News


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