No charges against man arrested in friend’s shooting, pending further investigation

A 22-year-old man arrested in connection to the fatal shooting of his friend in Tacoma has not been charged, pending further investigation, the prosecutor’s office said Friday.

He was to be released from Pierce County Jail on Friday night. He was arrested following the shooting Wednesday that killed 18-year-old Gardner Bee Chittenden.

The News Tribune does not generally name suspects before they have been charged with a crime.

Police responded to the reported accidental shooting at 3:40 p.m. in the 8000 block of South Thompson Avenue.

Chittenden died from his injuries at Tacoma General Hospital. Police said that the shooting was not accidental.

Chittenden’s family sent The News Tribune a statement Friday, in which they described the 18-year-old as kind, loyal and courageous.

“An avid skater and biker, his many ‘flesh wounds’ were a mark of a fearlessly-led life that inspired so many,” they wrote. “He would hurt and quietly keep going — that was his way.”

He was his mom’s best friend and his sister’s “champion,” they said.

“Gardner was a hard worker and had a brilliant way with mechanical and broken things,” the statement said. “Always tinkering, repairing, building; a way that extended to his family and friends, with a gentle ‘I got this’ attitude even in times of difficulty and chaos.”

Loved ones also said he had a great sense of humor and that he would laugh at any joke, including the bad ones.

“There is no way to describe the loss of this sweet young soul,” they wrote.

Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases that affect Pierce County. She started covering courts in 2016. Before that she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as The News Tribune’s night reporter.