As they drank alcohol and passed a handgun from one another, David Atherton was accidentally murdered in his home by one of his childhood friends.
23-year-old Patrick Riccardi-O’Connor pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to the jury of Woburn District Court of Stoneham, Massachusetts. At first, he told the police that Atherton shot himself, but he eventually confessed that they were ‘fooling around’ with his gun, which they apparently did not know it was loaded.
24-year-old David Atherton died from a gunshot to the chest. Both he and O’Connor worked as military police for the Massachusetts Army National Guard. According to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, investigations point towards a third man being present in the scene. It appears that the individuals were drinking alcohol and tossed the gun back and forth, while also pointing it at each other as a game.
— WBZ Boston News (@cbsboston) June 29, 2016
According to his attorney, O’Connor refused to comment.
Playing with guns never ends well
It was reported by WCVB that both men were “videotaping each other during the course of the evening, fooling around with the gun, pointing it at each other,” as it was stated by Adrienne Lynch from the DA’s office. She claims that one of the videos shows the defendant charging the weapon with bullets.
“Mr. Riccardi-O’Connor stated that he picked up the gun . . . then pulled the trigger and the gun fired, striking Mr. Atherton. Mr. Riccardi-O’Connor . . . knew there was a magazine in the gun but didn’t think there was a bullet in the chamber,’’ reads the report filed in Woburn District Court.
It was also stated that O’Connor ingested a bullet before the shooting.
Stoneham Fire Chief Matthew Grafton stated: “The Stoneham Fire Department experienced a great tragedy this week, and today we are mourning the loss of a brother. Firefighter David Atherton was new to our department, but had already given a lifetime’s worth of dedicated service to his fellow man.”
He received eight awards while in the National Guard, including the receipt of the Army Commendation Medal. Atherton also studied Criminal Justice at Central Texas College.
Town Administrator Bob Markel expressed his condolences to Atherton’s friends and family. He applauded the fire department’s response to the events. Reportedly, Atherton had faced rough times already, since his parents died when he was at an early age.
The trial was carried out by Judge Michael Brooks, who set O’Connor’s bail at $25,000. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault, and battery with a dangerous weapon. Attorney Andrea Levy said that the bail will be posted and that O’Connor would serve house arrest with a 6 p.m. curfew, besides wearing a GPS tracking device. A second hearing is set for August 3.
Some fear that O’Connor might become suicidal while being under house arrest and being in possession of a handgun, as murdered his childhood friend by accident.
Source: Wicked Local