Officers pulled over an erratic driver Thursday morning and found a 16-year-old behind the wheel with a gunshot victim in the back seat in Gwinnett County. The victim died a short time later and the teen was charged in her death. But police believe the teen accidentally shot her friend.
Lesley Salinas has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct and possession of a pistol by a minor in the death of 19-year-old Dominic Smith, according to Gwinnett County police.
“An innocent kid is gone,” Smith’s uncle told Channel 2 Action News.
The incident unfolded shortly after midnight when an officer spotted a vehicle driving erratically and initiated a pursuit, which ended after two miles, spokesman Cpl. Deon Washington said. The vehicle stopped in the 400 block of West Pike Street, Washington said.
When officers approached the vehicle, they found a man suffering from a gunshot wound in the back seat and summoned paramedics, Washington said. Officers performed CPR on Smith for eight minutes until paramedics arrived and the man was transported to the hospital, Washington said. But he died a short time later, police said.
Investigators learned the shooting took place in the parking lot of a subdivision in the 1600 block of Balvaird Drive in Lawrenceville, and responded to the scene, Washington said. They said six to seven teens, ranging in age from 16 to 19, were hanging out when the shooting happened.
“At least one of the teens, the 16-year-old female, was handling a firearm in an irresponsible manner and unintentionally shot the victim,” Washington said.
After the shooting, the other teens fled the scene, leaving the victim and the alleged shooter. The teen was attempting to transport the victim to the hospital when she was stopped by Lawrenceville police, officials said.
Smith’s uncle hopes his nephew’s death will serve as a lesson to others, Channel 2 reported.
“He was a good kid who’s going to be missed,” he said. “Everybody should learn from this. Put down the guns.”
The teen has had a first appearance and was being housed at a youth detention center in Gainsville, Washington said.
“Detectives are working to determine exactly how many people witnessed the shooting and where the firearm is that was used,” Washington said.
They are also trying to determine how the teen obtained the gun.
Anyone who witnessed the shooting is asked to call the police department’s Homicide Unit at (770) 513-5300. Anonymous tipsters should contact Crime Stoppers at (404) 577-8477 or visit www.crimestoppersatlanta.org.
“This is a very tragic and unfortunate situation that could have been avoided,” Washington said. “It highlights one of the worst situations that could happen when teens unlawfully handle firearms.”