Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

Teen shot Wednesday wouldn't want friends charged, family members say

By Nkoyo Iyamba and McKenzie Romero, Deseret News

Published: Fri, June 6 6:25 p.m. MDT

 Harley Jarrett's cousin Justin Quinteros ties a balloon to the fence during memorial for Harley at the Richard L. Guthrie Skate Park Friday, June 6, 2014, in Cottonwood Heights.

Harley Jarrett's cousin Justin Quinteros ties a balloon to the fence during memorial for Harley at the Richard L. Guthrie Skate Park Friday, June 6, 2014, in Cottonwood Heights.

(Hugh Carey, Deseret News)

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A little more than a day after a Cottonwood Heights teen was shot and killed, friends and family gathered at one of the places he loved most: the skate park.

With the sounds of wheels on cement and laughter in the background, about 20 family members and friends tied balloons to the fence at Guthrie Skate Park on Friday. They stood quietly to the side, sharing memories of 17-year-old Harley Jarrett, a kind boy who was usually seen carrying a skateboard.

"He was just a wonderful boy," said Lisa Baxter, Jarrett's grandmother.

Jarrett was shot Wednesday in a friend's basement when he and two 16-year-olds were looking at a gun reportedly stolen recently from a Cottonwood Heights home. The gun went off, shooting Jarrett in the head.

The two boys, students at Brighton High School, were arrested and booked into juvenile detention.

Little has been released about what the boys were doing with the gun or how they got it, but Jarrett's family believes the shooting was a "tragic and senseless accident."

"I don't know everything that happened, but with the boys who were taken into custody, Harley wouldn't want that. These were his friends. This was an accident," Baxter said.

The case was forwarded to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill on Friday for possible charges against the two teens, but no new details were released.

Baxter said she believes some responsibility for her grandson's death lies with the adults who were upstairs at the time of the shooting. The teens were "not being properly watched," she said.

"It's not that I'm blaming these people, but please, please don't let this happen again to another family," Baxter said.

Jarrett's aunt, Tasha Baxter, was four years older than Jarrett and spent time with him as her brother taught him to skateboard.

"He was more like a brother to me," she said. "He was the nicest kid you'd ever meet."

This wasn't his first time coming in contact with a gun, Tasha Baxter said, but the teen had always been responsible with firearms.

"He learned to shoot, but where you're supposed to," she said.

Linda and Tasha Baxter reject the stereotype that kids who skateboard can be troublemakers. Jarrett didn't get in trouble, and they never worried about him when he was out at the skate park.

Now, Linda Baxter will miss the moments her grandson would walk through the door with his skateboard, sometimes asking for a little cash to save for a new deck.

"It's a horrible, horrible tragedy," she said. "You don't think it's going to happen in your family, and it did."

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, niyamba@ksl.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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1. K
Mchenry, IL,
June 7, 2014

A group of teen boys don't need supervision inside someone's home. They are not small children.

2. Eliyahu
Pleasant Grove, UT,
June 7, 2014

"Baxter said she believes some responsibility for her grandson's death lies with the adults who were upstairs at the time of the shooting. The teens were "not being properly watched," she said."

I'm also sorry to hear about this tragedy, but sixteen and seventeen year olds do not require the same constant supervision as toddlers. It's neither practical nor reasonable to have an adult with them whenever they're in the home. Blame the parents for not teaching them enough about gun safety or about choosing their friends more carefully (don't hang with kids who steal), but anyone who's had teenagers knows there are limits on direct supervision when they're with friends.

3. Rustymommy
Clovis, NM,
June 7, 2014

This is a sad situation. Condolences to the family.

If it was truly a senseless accident, then no charges should be filed. But without further information, that is hard to believe. If the friends were older, they were adults. If they were a couple of years younger than him, they were certainly still old enough to know the dangers of guns. Blaming it on the adults upstairs seems a little harsh. Most kids in this age group get minimal supervision from parents during free time. These kids were old enough to babysit, date, get a job, drive a car, go to an R rated movie, etc. Parents are not with teenagers every moment. The parents could be partially responsible if the gun should have been better secured according to state law.

4. Instereo
Eureka, UT,
June 7, 2014

First of all, let me say I believe in the second amendment but with this sad case I sometimes wonder about the ease of access to guns in our society is a problem.

I don't think it was the fault of the adults in the house who were upstairs. How many of us adults would have been partying with our high school senior child and their friends. That would be weird.

Let's play it out another way. If they had gone to a neighbors, stole a knife, and were showing it to friends at a party, would that knife accidentally gone off and struck someone in the head. No, and we wouldn't be talking about this sad tragedy.

You can't blame the neighbors who had their gun stolen. Nor, the adults whose house the party was in because they didn't have a gun or if they did because it was locked up like it should be. You just have to wonder if we have 320 million people in the USA and 280 million guns if maybe the problem is we've gone overboard with our love of guns and the second amendment as a society.

5. Stringer Bell
Henderson, NV,
June 7, 2014

These comments are amazing.

"If it was truly a senseless accident, then no charges should be filed." - if the gun was stolen, yes they should be filed.

"You can't blame the neighbors who had their gun stolen" - yes you can. The gun was obviously not securely stored and as a result a young man was killed.

And obviously, teenagers with a loaded gun do indeed need some type of supervision.