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Utah teen was cleaning gun before unintentional shooting in Roy, parents say

A 16-year-old boy was hospitalized after being shot unintentionally while he and a friend were cleaning out a handgun in Roy Wednesday, July 21, 2021, according to the boy’s parents. (Ray Boone, KSL-TV)


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ROY — A 16-year-old boy was hospitalized after being shot unintentionally while he and a friend were cleaning out a handgun, according to the boy's parents.

This is the second shooting involving teenagers in less than a week after a 13-year-old was fatally shot in what West Jordan police called a "tragic incident."

The parents said Wednesday's shooting in Roy was an accident and the teens didn't realize there was a bullet in the chamber.

"Our officers have learned that there were two 16-year-olds inside the home that appeared to be playing with or otherwise manipulating the firearm and, at some point, the firearm discharged," said detective Josh Taylor with the Roy Police Department.

Police said it was shortly before 1 p.m. in the area of 2500 West and 5200 South where they found one of the teens with a gun injury Wednesday.

"One of the teenagers was struck in the stomach with the bullet and he was transported to the hospital," Taylor said.

Police were releasing only minimal information, but KSL spoke with the victim's stepfather, who declined an on-camera interview. However, he shared his stepson was cleaning a handgun with his friend.

The stepfather said the handgun, possibly a 9 mm, belongs to his stepson's 20-year-old brother.

He said the magazine was cleared from the gun, but the teens didn't realize a bullet was still in the chamber. That's when the friend pulled the slide and accidentally discharged the gun, the stepfather said.

The stepfather said the bullet went through his son's stomach, tearing through an intestine but missing his kidney before it went through a wood door and stopped in another door.

Roy police detective Josh Taylor says two teens appeared to be playing with or otherwise manipulating a firearm at a home in Roy before it discharged Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
Roy police detective Josh Taylor says two teens appeared to be playing with or otherwise manipulating a firearm at a home in Roy before it discharged Wednesday, July 21, 2021. (Photo: Ray Boone, KSL-TV)

The stepfather said the round was actually target ammunition, which experts like Chris Bertram, a criminal justice professor and retired deputy police chief, think may have saved the teen's life.

"It sounded like this was practice ammunition, so as a result it's just basically a ball ammunition or full metal jacket that goes straight through and in that case, it was very fortunate for the young man," Bertram said. "Had that been a hollow point that would've expanded a mushroomed as it went into the body tearing at organs, as it went through maybe ricocheting off of something, it could have been a very different outcome."

In a similar situation, a 13-year-old boy was killed after West Jordan police said his 15-year-old friend accidentally shot him in a church parking lot.

The 15-year-old in that case was booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of manslaughter.


You have to go back and check it — that's the wisdom of firearms.

–Chris Bertram, criminal justice professor


It's why Bertram said you can never be too careful with firearms no matter your experience level, adding he witnessed a few incidents where officers accidentally fired their weapons, not realizing there were bullets in the chamber, during his time in law enforcement.

"I've seen those accidents happen where people load a gun when they didn't realize they loaded it, and you have to go back and check it — that's the wisdom of firearms," Bertram said.

The Roy teen's stepfather said the boy had surgery Wednesday and is expected to recover.

As for his stepson's friend, the stepfather said they don't expect him to face any charges and said the friend was very worried about his stepson.

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Garna Mejia

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