The Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office has charged 13-year-old Dawson Anthony Dunn of Kelso with first-degree manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of his friend on Oct. 14.
Dunn pleaded not guilty to the charge Tuesday morning in Cowlitz Juvenile Court. Under state law, first-degree manslaughter is a Class A felony.
Dunn is accused of unintentionally shooting his friend Edgar Vazquez, 13, also of Kelso, with a 12-gauge Benelli shotgun, according to charging papers.
Cowlitz County Prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen told The Daily News Tuesday that his office will not be commenting on the decision to charge Dunn while the case is in progress.
Cowlitz County Juvenile Court Judge Marilyn Haan set a trial date for Feb. 1. Eighteen people have been named as potential witnesses, according to charging papers. The trial could span about three days, Haan said Tuesday.
The shooting occurred when Vazquez was visiting Dunn’s home in the 1500 block of Carroll Road in Kelso. According to court documents, Dunn told a Cowlitz County sheriff’s detective that Vazuez was chasing him around the house when he ran into a master bedroom and retrieved a shotgun from the closet. Dunn told the detective that he racked the gun to make sure it was unloaded and saw a round exit the chamber. Dunn said he then racked the gun again and thought it was empty before firing.
Dunn also told a Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue employee that the boys had been “messing around” when he pointed the gun at his friend and pulled the trigger, according to court documents.
Dunn’s 12-year-old cousin was also at the residence but did not witness the shooting, according to court documents. She told the detective that she overheard Dunn tell Vazquez to stop chasing him in a “very playful” voice about two minutes prior to the shooting. She then heard what sounded like a “balloon pop,” followed by Dunn screaming to call 911 because he had shot Vazquez, according to court documents.
Dunn is being charged with recklessly endangering the life of another person, according to charging papers. First-degree manslaughter can also carry a harsher punishment if a lethal act is committed with a firearm.
Although The Daily News does not publish the names of most juveniles accused of crimes, it occasionally does so in cases of serious felonies.