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Youth Admits Wounding Pal With Shotgun

Times Staff Writer

A 14-year-old Yorba Linda youth has admitted to wounding his 15-year-old friend and neighbor with a blast from a shotgun, a police spokesman said Thursday, but the boy said the shooting was an accident.

Michael Todd Tuchscher was in critical condition but improving Thursday, said his uncle, Don Rosson, as he waited outside of the intensive care unit at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. The wounded boy’s parents, Robert and Trudy Tuchscher, refused to comment, he said.

Michael was airlifted to the hospital after he was shot in the abdomen Tuesday evening at the home of his 14-year-old friend, a police spokesman said at the time.

The 14-year-old, who lives next door to the Tuchscher family on Walnut Creek Road, told police at the time of the incident that Michael was “fooling around” with the gun, which belongs to the younger boy’s father, and shot himself, Brea Police Sgt. Ed McDonald said Thursday.

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“Initially he said that the boy (Michael) had shot himself,” McDonald said. “Then later he indicated that there was an accident. That’s about where we’re at. We’re still investigating. . . . We can’t do much until we’re able to talk to Michael to get a complete story about what actually did happen.”

McDonald said that as of Thursday afternoon, no charges had been filed against the 14-year-old, whose name was not released because of his age. “We don’t know yet exactly what’s going to happen to him,” the officer said.

As Michael struggled in an intensive care unit, his friends and neighbors reeled from the shock that the incident dealt to their quiet neighborhood.

Rich Petit, 17, a senior at Esperanza High School, said Thursday that he “can’t see either one of them (the two boys) doing it (firing the loaded shotgun).” Petit lives next door to the Tuchscher family and two houses from the suspect. Until the incident, Petit said, he drove the 14-year-old to Esperanza High School every morning, where the boy is a freshman.

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The 14-year-old “is really easygoing,” Petit said. “He’ll do whatever you want to do. He’s a real good kid, a real nice guy. He’ll do whatever makes you happy. He won’t think of himself first.”

Michael, who is a sophomore at Whittier Christian High School, plays soccer, likes the rock ‘n’ roll group Boston and is “really crazy,” said Petit, who is afriend of both boys.

“He’s not afraid of anything,” the high school senior said. “He once tried to jump rope on his bike. He rolled his go-cart a couple of months ago, landed on his head and didn’t get hurt. He’ll pick on kids twice his size if he doesn’t like them. He’s a little runt, but he can back himself up.”

Through progress reports from Michael’s immediate family--the only ones who are allowed to visit the wounded boy--Petit said he has heard that Michael read, wrote and wiggled his toes Thursday.

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“He asked to go home, and he asked for a Coke,” Petit said. “We’re all just hoping he’s going to be all right. . . . We’re all really shook up, praying for him. We’re trying to get through it, trying to help him.”


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