Teen shot Wednesday wouldn't want friends charged, family members say
Hugh Carey, Deseret News
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A little more than a day after a Cottonwood Heights teen was shot and killed, friends and family gathered at one of the places he loved most: the skate park.
With the sounds of wheels on cement and laughter in the background, about 20 family members and friends tied balloons to the fence at Guthrie Skate Park on Friday. They stood quietly to the side, sharing memories of 17-year-old Harley Jarrett, a kind boy who was usually seen carrying a skateboard.
"He was just a wonderful boy," said Lisa Baxter, Jarrett's grandmother.
Jarrett was shot Wednesday in a friend's basement when he and two 16-year-olds were looking at a gun reportedly stolen recently from a Cottonwood Heights home. The gun went off, shooting Jarrett in the head.
The two boys, students at Brighton High School, were arrested and booked into juvenile detention.
Little has been released about what the boys were doing with the gun or how they got it, but Jarrett's family believes the shooting was a "tragic and senseless accident."
"I don't know everything that happened, but with the boys who were taken into custody, Harley wouldn't want that. These were his friends. This was an accident," Baxter said.
The case was forwarded to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill on Friday for possible charges against the two teens, but no new details were released.
Baxter said she believes some responsibility for her grandson's death lies with the adults who were upstairs at the time of the shooting. The teens were "not being properly watched," she said.
"It's not that I'm blaming these people, but please, please don't let this happen again to another family," Baxter said.
Jarrett's aunt, Tasha Baxter, was four years older than Jarrett and spent time with him as her brother taught him to skateboard.
"He was more like a brother to me," she said. "He was the nicest kid you'd ever meet."
This wasn't his first time coming in contact with a gun, Tasha Baxter said, but the teen had always been responsible with firearms.
"He learned to shoot, but where you're supposed to," she said.
Linda and Tasha Baxter reject the stereotype that kids who skateboard can be troublemakers. Jarrett didn't get in trouble, and they never worried about him when he was out at the skate park.
Now, Linda Baxter will miss the moments her grandson would walk through the door with his skateboard, sometimes asking for a little cash to save for a new deck.
"It's a horrible, horrible tragedy," she said. "You don't think it's going to happen in your family, and it did."
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