A 17-year-old Northwestern High School student died in a Saturday night shooting that family members said resulted from three youths playing with a loaded gun. A suspect was arrested overnight after initially fleeing the scene.
The shooting was reported shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday at a home at 852 Horseman Drive in Rock Hill, according to Rock Hill police. The victim was found dead in the front yard of the home, police said.
Investigators initially ruled the shooting a homicide, but later said it was accidental.
Robreece Pickett, 20, of Rock Hill was handling the gun when it went off, said Rock Hill Police Capt. Mark Bollinger. Pickett was charged with involuntary manslaughter and unlawful carrying of a weapon. His bond has been set at $115,000.
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The deceased teen was identified Sunday as Ja’Terreon Thorne by the York County coroner’s office. Family members said he was a junior at Northwestern, who had earlier in his high school career briefly played on the Trojan football team.
Thorne’s father, Terrence Thorne, 41, who lived at the home, said his son and two of his friends were playing games and watching TV in a “man cave” area that had been built in the backyard of the home.
“Kids were playing with a gun and it went off and hit my son,” Thorne said. He said his son was shot in the chest, and that a neighbor called an ambulance.
Thorne and the boy’s mother, Tamika Douglas, 40, said they did not know where the gun came from or what kind of gun was used. Douglas said there were no guns at her home.
Breanna Roberts, 18 and a first cousin of the deceased boy, said no one else was home at the time of the shooting. She said the two friends dragged Thorne from the backyard into a side yard and sprayed him with water from a hose.
Roberts said one of the friends fled on foot while the second friend remained at the scene with Thorne.
Police said late Saturday that they were searching for a lone gunman dressed in black.
Roberts described Thorne as a happy, funny youth who enjoyed sports and liked playing video games and going shopping. He was well known and had many friends, she said.
“He was an outgoing person,” she said. “He was a funny person. I loved him so much.”
Terrence Thorne described his son as “an all-out kid, he loved sports, he got along with everybody. Loving, smart.”
Last month, a teenager was gunned down in a mid-day shooting on Keels Avenue. Jarrius Harding, 18, was fatally shot in the March 4 homicide.
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Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077