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Details emerge about 17-year-old's shooting death: 'Our hearts go out to both families"

Posted at 6:09 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 18:36:49-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A 17-year-old boy lost his life while playing basketball Friday in Petersburg as a result of a mishandled firearm, according to Petersburg Police.

Officers were called to 1400 Talley Avenue in Petersburg on Friday night and found the 17-year suffering from a gunshot wound.

He later died, according to investigators.

Earl Law said her grandson heard a gunshot and reported it to her, but at the time, the situation lacked context.

“It was just so sad that his life was cut so short,” she said.

Over the weekend, Law said she learned she knew the young man who was killed.

Law said the 17-year-old boy grew up playing with her nieces and grandchildren and that he was a good kid.

She said she spoke with his father over the weekend.

“He was doing his best to hold up, but I could see the sadness and the trauma he was going through over losing his son,” Law said. “He and his dad had a really good relationship because they talked all the time and everywhere he wanted to go, he would call him. I know it’s hard on him now knowing he’s not getting that phone call.”

Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian said the tragedy is hitting multiple families.

An 18-year-old has been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the shooting.

“As a department, as a city, our hearts go out to both families. Both have suffered a loss in this tragic situation,” Chief Christian said.

Although the incident remains under investigation, Christian said he is not aware of any pending charges.

“You had a group of teenagers who were out in the area playing basketball. One of those individuals was in possession of a firearm. There was some mishandling of the firearm if you will, and as a result, the firearm was discharged, one single shot,” Christian said.

The tragedy is the latest example, Christian said, of why it is important to engage young people on the dangers of gun violence and how to best navigate a situation that could present danger.

“If we are vigilant and pay attention to our kids, pay attention to our neighborhoods, pay attention to everything that’s going on, some of these situations we can eliminate,” Christian said.

He added that although this case is still under investigation, too often they find firearms in the hands of young people.

“So far this year, in the upwards of 60 firearms off the street that were used in an illegal capacity. Now, we have another challenge: how are these guns getting in the hands of our minors? We’re going to address those issues,” Christian said.

Petersburg Police are available to speak to families and community groups about the many factors that can lead to gun deaths, Christian said. Those who are interested can contact the Petersburg Police non-emergency line.

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carroll Foy released a statement saying she grew up on Talley Avenue and has family who still live there.

“These deaths are the ones that don’t always make the headlines. They’re the ones that have been occupying my brain since I was a kid in Petersburg. As I said yesterday, we need full transformational change,” Carroll Foy said.

Law said she constantly talks to her children and grandchildren about gun violence. A message that rings even more true now that her family is seeing firsthand the pain of the 17-year old’s family who lost his life in this manner.

“It’s real bothersome to know that you got these young babies out here with guns on their waist or breaking into cars. Doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing,” Law said. “Not be able to see your child graduate, to do all the things all the other kids are going to able to do right now, it’s pretty hard.”

CBS 6 has learned the teenage victim’s name but has not received confirmation from family or police.