An 18-year-old Altoona man was charged Friday as a juvenile in connection with the Dec. 26 shooting death of Jesse T. McElhinney, 16, of 125 E. Third Ave.
The defendant was 17 at the time of the incident, which occurred when the two played with a handgun the boy had brought to McElhinney's home, Altoona police said.
He will face involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, theft of movable property, receiving stolen property and a minor not to possess a firearm charges, Lt. Jeffrey Pratt said.
The decision to file charges against the boy came after consultation with Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio, Pratt said.
"The decision wasn't the Altoona Police Department's call to make. Ultimately, given the totality of the circumstances, it was the district attorney's office that determined this incident warranted some type of criminal prosecution," Pratt said. "It is unfortunate that we have a young man who is no longer here; people should not lose sight of that fact."
The teenager, who was a friend of McElhinney's had posted an apology on his Facebook page, addressing everyone affected by McElhinney's death.
"The victim's family was sympathetic toward the boy; that was a humanitarian gesture on the part of the family, but you have what we believe is a criminal act that someone has to answer for," Pratt said.
Jon Frank, the deputy director of the Blair County Juvenile Probation Office, said Friday the paperwork for the charges against the young man had not yet been filed in his office.
When the charges are filed, an intake conference to include the boy and his parents will be set up within 30 days, Frank said. Its purpose will be to learn about the boy as a way to help the court in its disposition of the case.
After the intake interview, the court process must begin within 90 days, Frank said.
The juvenile office will work with the Blair County District Attorney's Office throughout the process.
There is a reason for not pursuing the case in adult court even though the boy was close to being adult age on Dec. 26, Consiglio said.
Consiglio said he didn't want to discuss the reason at this point but would explain later. He also did not want to discuss the details of the shooting yet.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467. Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.