Crime

Teen died after being shot in the back and his friend is charged in the death

A 17-year-old boy fatally shot his friend in the back and told police his friend shot himself, court records show.

Lakewood police were called about 6:30 p.m. Sunday to the 14800 block of Washington Avenue Southwest and found 18-year-old Lavonte Daniel Fleming lying on his back near the front door suffering from a gunshot wound.

He died at the scene.

His friend, 17-year-old Elijah Goode-Mitchell, “was frantically moving about the small living room, yelling into a phone,” according to court documents.

Goode-Mitchell’s grandmother told police the teen lived in Spokane but had been staying with her and her boyfriend because of problems back home.

The grandma’s boyfriend said he heard Goode-Mitchell and Fleming laughing and playing with the dog shortly before the shooting.

After hearing a single gunshot, he got up to see what happened and saw Goode-Mitchell dragging his friend’s body and screaming that Fleming had shot himself.

The boyfriend “told police that he didn’t believe Fleming had shot himself,” records say.

Goode-Mitchell’s grandma called 911 and told dispatchers Fleming had shot himself in the stomach.

After her grandson started threatening to hurt himself, she allegedly took the gun and hid it in a planter outside.

Goode-Mitchell told officers he’d come out of the bathroom and startled Fleming, then heard a gun go off. He claimed he did not know where his friend got a gun.

Investigators believe that’s a lie.

A Snapchat was found of Goode-Mitchell holding a gun that looks similar to the gun used in Fleming’s death.

Fleming’s uncle also told police his nephew had recently been assaulted but said he wasn’t concerned about going to Goode-Mitchell’s house because “my homie that lives here has a gun,” according to charging papers.

Fleming’s uncle dropped Fleming off at Goode-Mitchell’s house the day of the shooting.

Police initially released Goode-Mitchell to his grandmother’s care but arrested him Tuesday night after the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide.

Forensic investigators said Fleming died of a gunshot wound to the back and the gun was likely 1 to 2 feet away when it fired.

“Police further learned from another youth that the day before this incident the defendant was brandishing this firearm, which had a laser light, and pointing the gun at both the witness and Fleming,” records say.

The teens then allegedly discussed a rapper who killed two acquaintances in an accidental shooting and asked Goode-Mitchell not to point a gun at others.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Goode-Mitchell with first-degree manslaughter and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

He pleaded not guilty at arraignment. Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Craig Adams set bail at $25,000.

Defense attorney Jared Ausserer told the court that Goode-Mitchell has no warrant history.

“My client facilitated his surrender to police,” Ausserer said. “He will appear.”

Goode-Mitchell declined to speak with detectives about what happened and has not provided details about the shooting, Lt. Chris Lawler said.

The investigation is ongoing.

Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn covers crime and breaking news in Pierce County. She started with The News Tribune in 2010. Before that, she spent six years writing about crime in Southern California for another newspaper.
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