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Teen Arrested in Shooting of Friend

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles police have arrested a 13-year-old Canoga Park boy on suspicion of attempted murder for allegedly shooting a classmate in the neck during a game of Russian roulette Friday.

The bullet severed the spinal cord of Dwayne McKee, 14, of Woodland Hills, who doctors said will be permanently paralyzed from the neck down, according to Lt. Bill Gaida.

The shooting occurred at about 6:40 p.m. Friday at the Canoga Park youth’s home while his parents were away, Gaida said. Another youngster called police, and Dwayne was taken by helicopter to Northridge Hospital Medical Center, where he remained in serious condition Wednesday in the intensive care unit.

2 Eighth-Graders Involved

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Both boys are eighth-grade students at George Ellery Hale Junior High School in Woodland Hills. The suspect, who was arrested Tuesday, is the son of the chief executive officer of a fledgling independent oil firm, Gaida said.

Police said the arrested youth told them the shooting was accidental. Dwayne’s condition at first prevented police from talking to him for details, but when he was interviewed by police Tuesday, the wounded boy implicated his friend in the shooting, Gaida said.

Later Tuesday, the 13-year-old, accompanied by his father and a lawyer, went to the West Valley Division police station in Reseda at the request of detectives. He was arrested after he gave inconsistent statements during a tape-recorded interview, Gaida said.

The youth was being held at Sylmar Juvenile Hall on Wednesday.

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Police said evidence contradicted the suspect’s account of the shooting. “It was physically not possible for the gun to have fired in the way he said,” Gaida said.

According to police, Dwayne said the 13-year-old went into his parents’ bedroom, emptied his father’s .38-caliber revolver, put back one bullet and spun the barrel. He pointed the gun at his own head and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire, police said.

Police said Dwayne told them he protested as his friend then pointed the gun at him and fired once, striking him in the right side of the neck before he could dive out of the way.

The bullet exited through the boy’s left shoulder, Gaida said.

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At the time of the shooting, there were several brothers and sisters and their friends in other parts of the youth’s upper-middle-class home, Gaida said. One of them telephoned police.

Father ‘Can’t Feel Any Worse’

The arrested youth’s father, interviewed briefly Wednesday at his home, said the shooting was accidental, occurring after the injured boy asked his son to see the gun. He expressed sympathy for the wounded youth’s parents, to whom he said he had just spoken.

“I can’t feel any worse,” he said. “I just got the gun two days ago as a birthday present.” The father said he had never owned a gun before.

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One student at the junior high school, Tracy Brockstein, described Dwayne as “the nicest.”

“He cared about everyone. If you ever had a problem, you could talk to him,” she said.

Principal Charles Welch said both boys were scheduled to graduate next week and enroll at El Camino High School in the fall.

Gaida said there is no evidence the arrested youth intended to kill his friend, but police believe they can prove he deliberately aimed at Dwayne.

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“I would say this case graphically illustrates the inherent danger of inexperienced individuals playing with guns,” Gaida said. “Handguns are an attractive nuisance and special precautions should be taken to keep them away from children.”

Police said there was no evidence the boys were using drugs or alcohol at the time of the shooting.


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