MULBERRY, Fla. (WFLA) — Five Mulberry teens were charged in connection with a 19-year-old’s death after he was fatally shot last Wednesday, deputies said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said at around 9 p.m. on Sept. 21, it got a 911 call from Andres Garcia Pineda, 18, who said he shot one of his friends at home on Laurel Crest Drive.
When first responders arrived, they found Cesar Rosales, 19, on the ground, suffering from a gunshot wound. Deputies said the teen later died after being taken to a hospital.
Detectives said Pineda told them he was at the home with Rosales and four of his other friends at the time of the shooting.
The sheriff’s office said its investigation found that Rosales left the house and walked to the rear porch near a sliding door when Pineda picked up a 9mm handgun, pulled the slide to see if it was loaded, and accidentally fired the weapon.
The gunshot ended up shattering the glass door and hitting Rosales on his right side, according to deputies.
All of the teens except for Rosales and Pineda, who called Rosales’ parents before dialing 911.
“Witnesses in the area told detectives they heard a gunshot and then saw a black pick-up truck drive away from the residence,” a statement from the sheriff’s office said. “One of the witnesses said he spoke with Pineda in the front yard of the residence. Pineda told him that someone had thrown a brick through the sliding glass door.”
The day after the shooting, detectives found the other four teens, all of whom were underage.
The other teens said Pineda accidentally shot Rosales but denied knowing where the gun was, according to the sheriff’s office.
An on-site search of a cellphone belonging to one of the minors found messages between two of the teens saying to “not talk about where the gun was.”
The four teens admitted to detectives that they took the gun and hid it in a field near Kelly Court and Janeen Circle, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies found the gun exactly where the teens said it would be, wrapped in a Dollar General bag.
One of the teens said he went to the Dollar General to get rubbing alcohol to clean the handgun.
“Here’s one more example of someone illegally possessing a firearm, and due to his gross negligence, a young man is dead,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “The other teens who tried to doctor up the evidence are also all being charged with felonies. This entire incident should never have happened.”
Pineda was charged with manslaughter while the other teens each got multiple charges, including possession of a firearm while under 18 years old, tampering with evidence, tampering with a witness, giving false information to a law enforcement officer, and accessory after the fact of a first-degree felony.
Due to their age, the other four teens will not be identified in this report.