Details released in Utah boys' homicide-suicide

AP News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2014 2:24 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A teenage boy was so distraught after accidently killing his friend while playing with a stolen gun that he turned the weapon on himself at a suburban Salt Lake City home last year, police said.

Authorities released new details Friday about the investigation into the deaths of Dayton Gessell, 15, and Taylor Wheeler, 12, after saying a year ago that it was a murder-suicide.

The two boys were with a group of five friends playing with three guns in the basement of the home when Wheeler was killed the afternoon of Nov. 15, 2013, said Tina Brown, a spokeswoman for the city of South Jordan. Police believe Gessell shot himself after the others ran to get help.

A woman was upstairs at the time with another child but didn't know what was going on in the basement. Police say the guns, which were were reported stolen the day of the shootings, came from a then-16-year-old friend who was charged with theft and burglary, as well as aggravated assault for pointing the guns while the boys were playing with them.

That boy's name hasn't been released. Brown said his case is still working its way through the juvenile court system.

The weapons came from the home of a relative of the 16-year-old boy, the Deseret News reported.

Brown said the case shows why it's important to keep firearms out of reach of children.

"If you own guns, lock them up, keep them safe and out of the way," said Brown.

Neither drugs nor alcohol were factors in the deaths, Brown said.

The deaths shook residents in the quiet suburb, where homicides are rare enough that the Police Department brought in outside agencies to help investigate.