TACOMA, WA – Today Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Tanielu Lotovaivai, 19, with First Degree Manslaughter in the death of Jalon Bea, 17, who died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. The shooting was an accident.
“This is a sad example of why you should never point a gun at anyone unless you intend to shoot,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
On October 11, 2013, the defendant was parked in a car with several people and was passing around his .38 caliber revolver. Others were standing next to the car, including the victim. The defendant said he was “playing around” when he pointed the gun at the victim and pulled the trigger. The gun discharged. The defendant told witnesses that he was sorry, and he didn’t know the gun was loaded. The defendant helped load the victim into the vehicle and accompanied him to the hospital. After he arrived at the hospital, the defendant fled because he was scared. The defendant turned himself in on October 14, 2013 and was arrested.
Detectives believe the defendant attempted to unload the revolver prior to passing it around the car, but failed to remove at least one round from the cylinder. The defendant told detectives that this was the first gun he had ever owned.
The defendant will be arraigned today at 1:30pm in Courtroom 270 of the County-City Building in Tacoma. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Heather Songer, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office