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Friday, December 8, 2023

Shooting victim airlifted for medical treatment as Leesburg teen faces felony gun charges

A Leesburg teen has been arrested after claiming he accidentally shot his friend in the back with a Smith & Wesson pistol.  

The 17-year-old male, whose name is being withheld because he is a juvenile, was charged with three counts of firearm possession on Sunday afternoon while his friend was airlifted to UF Health-Shand’s Hospital in Gainesville after suffering potentially life-threatening injuries, according to an arrest report from the Leesburg Police Department.  

On that day, law enforcement received a call from UF Health-Leesburg Hospital regarding a female victim with a gunshot wound. Police arrived at the hospital and spoke to the victim, who advised that she was in a vehicle with her cousin and the juvenile when she was shot in the back, the report said. 

Officers on scene were able to confirm this information through the victim’s cousin, but the juvenile had fled from the hospital in the vehicle before their arrival. They were able to find his phone number and convinced him to return to the hospital for questioning in the vehicle in which the shooting had occurred, the report said. 

Once the juvenile arrived back on scene, he was detained for further investigation, the report said. He made an initial statement regarding the incident and was transported to the Leesburg Police Department, where he was escorted to an interview room for questioning by another officer. 

The juvenile then explained that the victim was in the front passenger seat of the vehicle while her cousin sat in the driver’s seat. He was in the back seat toward the middle as they sat parked in the driveway of his Leesburg home, the report said. 

While they were hanging out, the juvenile thought he heard gunshots coming from somewhere in the neighborhood. He picked up a Smith & Wesson MP .380 that was laying on the seat next to him and slid over directly behind the front passenger seat. As he did so, the pistol went off while pointed at the victim. He immediately knew she had been struck with the bullet and advised that they needed to go to the hospital, which was just down the road, the report said. 

This was when the group drove to UF Health-Leesburg Hospital to get the victim some help. While on scene, the juvenile got scared and drove the vehicle back to his residence. He took the gun and placed it in a green army-type bag before hiding it in a bush near a playground, the report said. 

The officer asked the juvenile if that was the only gun in the bag, and he advised it was not. He stated there were three guns in the bag. Officers responded to the location and found the bag and the firearms, the report said. 

The juvenile stated that the incident was an accident, and he did not know the firearm was loaded when he was handling it, the report said. 

The report also noted that the juvenile was adjudicated as a delinquent on June 15. 

The juvenile was ultimately charged with three counts of possession of a firearm by a delinquent and tampering with physical evidence. He was transported to the Lake County Jail for further processing. 

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