Erik Steve Lopez, of Webster Street in Landover Hills, was charged with manslaughter. He is being charged as an adult.
Police said the shooting happened about 8 p.m. Sept. 22 in the 4200 block of 58th Avenue in Bladensburg. When Bladensburg officers arrived at the scene, they found Diego Gomez-Martinez, 16, suffering from a graze to his forearm and a gunshot wound to his abdomen, according to Prince George’s police, whose homicide unit is investigating.
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At the time of the shooting, Gomez-Martinez told authorities that he had accidentally shot himself while “playing with the gun,” according to court documents.
He died several hours later at a hospital, police said. Gomez-Martinez was a 10th-grader at Bladensburg High School.
Investigators determined that Gomez-Martinez was right-handed and could not have shot himself, the court document said.
A witness later told authorities that a gunshot went off that night, and Lopez was seen holding a handgun while sitting to the right of Gomez-Martinez, police said in a court filing.
Authorities said the witness had been with Lopez and Gomez-Martinez earlier that evening. The pair went to visit the witness’s apartment and at some point Gomez-Martinez began playing with a gun and pointed it at the witness, according to the court document.
The witness went to sleep and was soon awakened by a gunshot, investigators said. After spotting Lopez sitting near Gomez-Martinez, the witness said Lopez put the handgun in a black bookbag and fled the apartment, according to the document.
Attempts to reach Lopez’s relatives for comment at an address listed for him in the court filing were not successful Wednesday.
Rafael Lopez, Gomez-Martinez’s stepfather, said Wednesday that he was surprised when he learned that his stepson had been with someone handling a gun. He said had never seen Gomez-Martinez with a gun or heard his stepson mention using guns.
The stepfather also said he never saw Gomez-Martinez spending time with Lopez and did not know of any connection between the two. He said Gomez-Martinez enjoyed playing basketball.
Jerry Jordan, who lives in the same building in Bladensburg where Gomez-Martinez did, said the teen was new to the area. Jordan said he would often see Gomez-Martinez going to and from the nearby school. Jordan said Gomez-Martinez would often stop and chat and was “a good dude.”
Lopez is being held on a $200,000 bond.
Via Washington Post