Police: Teen who fatally shot friend faces charges
Police say 17-year-old Malik Warthen was shot while playing video games
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It will be up to the State Attorney's Office whether a 17-year-old Jacksonville boy will be prosecuted as a juvenile or adult in Saturday's fatal shooting of a friend while they were playing video games in an Argyle Forest home, police said Monday.
Michael Saddler was arrested on a warrant for manslaughter and tampering with evidence after the death of 17-year-old Malik Warthen.
Witnesses told police a group of young people were inside the home and Warthen and Saddler were playing with guns when Saddler shot Warthen in the head. According to the police report, one witness reported that Saddler told Warthen, “Bro, I’m sorry. I didn’t know there was one in the chamber.”
Warthen was taken to the hospital, where he died.
“This is a nightmare that you would not imagine," said Saddler's sister, Nicole. "You see things like this on TV and think it will never happen to you.”
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives found the gun used in the backyard of a house near the Maidstone Mill Drive home where the shooting occurred. Police said the gun did not belong to the homeowner and it was not stolen. Police are still investigating exactly where that gun came from.
On Monday, police said a second gun was found in the bedroom.
Family members said the teenagers were good friends and this was an accident.
"We are going to get through this as a family; our family; Malik’s family," Nicole Saddler said. "We’ve come together. We are working hard. We are praying every day. We are just trying to get past this and spread the message that guns are not toys."
Monday was a sad day for students at Westside High School, where classmates of Warthen couldn't believe how he died.
“It’s shocking that he’s gone," said Jakeria Stokes, a friend. "We wouldn’t expect him to die so soon, at a young age.”
Many describe the 17-year-old as funny, playful, energetic, an all-around good person.
“I am still kind of in denial because it doesn’t sound, it just doesn’t sound real," said another friend, Kanaijah Owensby. "He was just the least person I would expect to die like that ...and it was shocking.”
A GoFundMe account has been started in memory of Warthen.
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