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The killing of a 13-year-old in Wilmington earlier this year was the result of an accidental gunshot by his 15-year-old friend, according to newly revealed court documents.
Jeremiah Redding was killed by a single gunshot to the head about three weeks before his 14th birthday in an upstairs room of a home in Wilmington's Southeast 9th Ward neighborhood.
Two weeks later, police arrested a 15-year-old in connection to the killing, but released no details about the shooting. That 15-year-old was indicted in New Castle County Superior Court on charges of second-degree murder and lying to police last week.
Court documents detail that the defendant, whom Delaware Online/The News Journal is not naming due to his age and the nature of the killing, was the victim's friend and the two were playing with the gun when Redding was killed.
Redding was playing with the gun when it jammed, according to the documents. He handed the gun to the defendant to fix the jam. While the 15-year-old was clearing the jam, the gun fired, striking Redding in the head. He died two days later.
Court documents do not detail the exact nature of Redding's relationship to the defendant, but family members said they had been close friends for years. In the court documents, the defendant is quoted as describing Redding as his "friend, his boy and his brother."
At first, the defendant lied to police about the shooting and said he was not in the home at the time. He told other witnesses the real story and they relayed what happened to police, according to court documents.
The defendant later admitted lying and told police that he was handling the gun when it fired.
The defendant told police he didn't believe Redding had been hit until he saw blood, court documents state. A witness told police that the defendant had said a laser sight on the weapon was pointed toward Redding's head when the gun fired.
In a panic, the defendant tried to discard the gun, he told police. Police found the weapon in the yard of the residence.
Court documents state that police also reviewed an Instagram Live video that showed the two teens brandishing the gun. An officer wrote that the defendant was "recklessly" handling the weapon, pointing it at the person filming the video.
It is unclear from court documents who owned the gun or how the teens were able to play with it.
Redding, better known as “JJ” to friends and “King” to close relatives, was born on Mother's Day in 2006. He attended Bancroft Elementary and Bayard Middle School, and was well-loved by teachers and fellow students, an obituary said.
He was also known for his "infectious smile."