Man fatally shot by friend during bulletproof vest ‘test’

What was meant as a playful test of a bulletproof vest by two friends in Northern California ended with one man dead and his friend in jail on suspicion of murder, officials said.

Characterized by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department as an “unintentional killing,” deputies arrested Elijah Ray Lambert, 21, on Saturday for allegedly fatally shooting his friend in Bannister Park in Fair Oaks the previous night.

The Sacramento County coroner identified the victim as Miguel Martinez, 19, of Citrus Heights. In an interview with KXTV, Martinez’s brother, Tom Cline, said Martinez, Lambert and their friends were playing with a gun and bulletproof vest when his brother was shot.

Martinez had put on the vest and Lambert shot at it to see if it would stop the bullet, Cline told KXTV.


“The bullet had actually penetrated the top of his vest,” Cline said. “They said he could not breath.”

Sheriff’s deputies declined to say whether Martinez was wearing a vest when he was shot, but they did say Lambert shot Martinez without meaning to kill him.

The pair were with two other friends, said Sgt. Lisa Bowman. The group initially reported the shooting as a robbery but later confessed it was an accident, authorities said.

“My brother didn’t deserve this death … he was a good boy,” Cline said.


Lambert is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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