Urbana teen admits firing flare gun that wounded cousin

Urbana teen admits firing flare gun that wounded cousin

URBANA — An Urbana teen who admitted he fired a modified flare gun into the head of his 8-year-old cousin in Urbana is scheduled to be sentenced in Champaign County Circuit Court next month.

Assistant State's Attorney Claire Sharples-Brooks said the boy, now 16, admitted in juvenile court Friday to a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm. He will be sentenced Sept. 3.

The normal range of penalties for the Class 4 felony for adults is probation to one to three years in prison. However, juveniles may be held in the Department of Juvenile Justice indefinitely until their 21st birthday. The teen has no prior police contacts and no criminal record, Sharples-Brooks said.

Sharples-Brooks told Judge Harry Clem that the shooting happened at the teen's home in the 800 block of Hawthorne Drive just before 10 p.m. July 1.

She said the teen found a flare gun, fitted with a makeshift barrel to fire a shotgun shell, in a backpack in the house. The gun went off in his hand and hit his 8-year-old cousin in the head.

Sharples-Brooks said the latest information she had about the victim was that he remained hospitalized last week at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis and was improving.

The teen initially told Urbana police that the gun was in a backpack, that the pack fell to the floor, and the gun accidentally discharged. Given that the backpack was intact, police quickly determined the teen was not telling the truth.

The mother of the teen was in another room at the time of the shooting. She told The News-Gazette last month she didn't know where it had come from.

Police believe the gun belonged to an adult male relative of the teen, who was paroled to that address. State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said a parole warrant has been issued by the Illinois Department of Corrections for that adult to get him back into custody.


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787 wrote on August 01, 2014 at 11:08 am

Of course.  There's a gun in the house, but NO ONE seems to have a clue as to whose it was, or where it came from.

I guess we can assume that no one owned the backpack either.  This backpack just somehow appeared in the house... right?

Mary Schenk wrote on August 01, 2014 at 11:08 am

I have clarified the suspected origin of the gun.

787 wrote on August 01, 2014 at 1:08 pm

My criticism was not directed at you, Ms. Schenk.

It was directed at how absurd this whole case is, and how the State's Attorney's office is yet again, asleep at the wheel.

I guess we should all start claiming that we don't know anything about anything... because that has been the strategy of everyone who is connected with this case, and the State's Attorney's office is letting them get away with it.

Just another failure of Julia Rietz's office.  No huge surprise there.

TruthIL wrote on August 01, 2014 at 4:08 pm

The title of the article is extremely misleading.  According to the article the charge and admission indicate the flare gun went off in the teen's hand accidentally.  Nothing about him intending to shoot the gun, let alone his cousin.  The title makes it seem like he admitted to doing it on purpose.

rsp wrote on August 01, 2014 at 8:08 pm

If you are handling a gun and it goes off you are responsible for it. His handling of it was purposeful. He had no business doing that. He didn't own it, wasn't trained to use it, didn't have permission to have it in his hand. The direct result of that was his cousin got shot.

I'm sure he never wanted that to happen, but children can't foresee the future like adults to see the risks in things. I'm sure his mother never thought she had to tell him "if you find a gun in our home don't touch it, come and get me". That's what you teach your kids about being someplace else.