Man charged with fatally shooting Tacoma teen was "playing around"

Staff writerOctober 15, 2013 

A man charged with fatally shooting a Tacoma teenager Friday unloaded the revolver before jokingly pointing it at his friend but didn’t realize there was a round in the cylinder, prosecutors said.

Tanielu Lotovaivai, 19, pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon to one count of first-degree manslaughter for the death of Jalon Bea, 17. Bail was set at $250,000.

The friends were sitting in a parked car at South 43rd and South G streets when Lotovaivai began passing around his .38 caliber revolver. He allegedly pointed the gun at Bea and pulled the trigger, shooting the teen in the chest.

"Lotovaivai said he was deafened by the shot, told those around him that he was sorry and that he didn’t know the gun was loaded,” according to charging papers.

He helped load Bea into the car but fled after they arrived at St. Joseph Medical Center because he was scared. Bea died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Lotovaivai, who claimed the revolver was the first gun he’d ever owned, turned himself in to police Monday.

Police said Lotovaivai tried to unload the revolver prior to passing it among his friends but forgot at least one round in the cylinder.

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