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Teen charged with manslaughter in 17-year-old's death

Malik Warthen was shot while playing video games

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year-old is now facing manslaughter and tampering with evidence charges in the shooting death of another teen.

Michael Saddler was arrested and charged with the death of 17-year-old Malik Warthen​ late Saturday night.

On Saturday afternoon, officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office responded to a home on East Maidstone Mill Drive. That's where they say Warthen​ was hanging out with friends when he was shot.

Police say a group of people were inside the home playing video games when Saddler picked up a gun and shot Warthen in the head. He was taken to the hospital, where he died. 

People in the area and family members say this was a group of teenagers who had been good friends and were hanging out at the house. Warthen's family members are devastated and in a state of shock.

"I'm frustrated, I'm hurt," said Sky Hall, the victim's aunt. "I'm all cried out. My head hurts. I can't believe he's gone."

But Warthen's family members said the shooter also lived in the area and had also been friends with the victim.

"I just know he would always be at the house," said Jade Atwater, the victim's cousin. "He would stay the night, play games, go to parties together. I can't even picture him with a gun in his hand, that's why I don't even know how this happened."

Warthen's family members describe him as an outgoing young man and a student at Westside High School. They said he loved playing sports and video games.

"Whatever he had, he would give it to you," Hall said. "It's just like, I don't know why this had to happen to him. Why?"

Police said the gun was found in a backyard near the Warthen home, but are not releasing any new details.

News4Jax Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith said the manslaughter charge offers some insight about the police investigation.

"Once they release the information as to what happened in the incident, we'll have a better understanding as to why they didn't charge first degree [murder]," Smith said. "But more than likely it wasn't something that was premeditated. It really has to do with intent."

Smith said the manslaughter charge could be the result of an accident or some type of negligence.

 

 


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