A Tacoma man says he was 'playing around' when he pointed his revolver at a friend and pulled the trigger, killing him.
Tanielu Lotovaivai, 19, says he didn't realize it was still loaded. He pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter Tuesday afternoon for the death of Jalon Bea.
Prosecutors say on Oct. 11 Bea, 17, was sitting in a parked car when Lotovaivai pointed a .38 caliber revolver towards him, eventually shooting him in the chest.
It happened in a parked car outside a home near South G and South 45th Street.
According to court documents, Lotovaivai helped take Bea to the hospital but then took off because, he told prosecutors, he was scared. He turned himself in to police on Monday.
"I still can't believe it happened its like a bad dream and I want to wake up," said Jackie Bea, the victim's mother.
Jackie Bea says her son was a standout football athlete at Tacoma's Lincoln High School and was already working towards his associate's degree. According to his mom, Jalon was preparing to enlist in the Navy.
"He was beyond special, he was my angel and such a good person. He didn't deserve this, it was senseless," she said.
News of his death has shown Jalon's family just how popular he was with friends and classmates.
"He was always one to have fun, he's always the one that clowns around on people and laugh," said James Bea, the victim's older brother.
Prosecutors believe the shooting was an accident, which is why Lotovaivai is charged with manslaughter and not murder.
"Whether it was an accident or not, it shouldn't have happened. I just want justice," said Jackie Bea.
To honor Jalon and heal from his loss, friends and family rallied at Tacoma's Lincoln Park Tuesday night. His family also called the event an anti-gun violence rally.
Lotovaivai's bail is set at $250,000. His trial is scheduled for December 10.