In what sounds like a modern day Shakespearian tragedy, a young man in the Willowbrook section of Los Angeles County, California, overcome with grief and guilt after accidentally shooting and killing his childhood friend, shot and killed himself on Sept. 28. Police responded to the call for shots fired around 1 a.m., according to a report from ABC News.
When deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Century Station arrived on the scene of the shootings, witnesses said that the two childhood friends, Jerrod Taylor, 23, and Dominique Cheppelle Barnett, 24, were just hanging out with friends in the 400 block of East 138th Street when Barnett pulled out a gun. Taylor tried to take the gun away from Barnett; and a brief struggle for the weapon took place between the two.
As the two friends struggled over possession of the gun, the weapon discharged. Taylor was hit in the head by a lone bullet. About 30 seconds after Taylor was struck, Barnett used the same gun to take his own life. No-one else was hurt as a result of the shootings. Police recovered the gun at the scene.
Barnett was pronounced dead at the scene. Taylor was transported to the hospital, but died as a result of that gunshot wound to his head. Witnesses told police that although Barnett did produce the gun, he did not brandish it in a threatening manner prior to the struggle for the gun between the two friends.
“I’m sure Dominique did get distraught over shooting his best friend. He didn’t see an out. I wish he would have called me,” said Barnett’s father, Antoine.
The Press-Telegram quoted Barnett’s dad as saying “I didn’t even get a chance to say bye to him.” Adding to the tragic tale, family members report that Taylor had recently become a father. “(He had) positive things going on for him in his life, good job, (he had) his little family. He was just trying to do what’s right,” said Taylor’s stepmother, Latanya.
“There was no animosity or no anger between the two for this to occur,” said Det. Steven Lankford with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. “It was a situation where it was just a tragic accident that resulted in two individuals losing their lives.”
Family members of the victims said that Taylor and Barnett had been close friends since their early teenage years. Although a homicide detective said that the first shooting did appear to be accidental, police will be looking into the possibility that drugs or alcohol may have helped contribute to the shootings.