Between sobs, the grandfather of 17-year-old Harley Jarrett confessed Friday that after days of “just feeling numb,” the ragged grief and pain of losing his grandson to an accidental shooting was setting in.
Rodger Jarrett, of Salt Lake City, said news that Harley had suffered the fatal gunshot to the head at a Cottonwood Heights home on Wednesday night while friends handled what they thought was an unloaded handgun still has his family reeling as they struggle to make funeral arrangements.
“He was a great kid. He was kind of my little angel,” the elder Jarrett said. “Oh, he had a little bit of a wild streak in him, but down deep he was a good kid.”
Harley’s life was not an easy one, his grandfather said, explaining that the boy did not grow up with a lot of money to spend, and had to deal with the divorce of his parents over the past few years.
However, Harley had made friends during his junior year at Brighton High School. “His whole life was his friends,” 69-year-old Rodger Jarrett said.
Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo said Friday that his detectives had met with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office to screen possible charges against two 16-year-old boys who were with Harley when he was shot.
District Attorney Sim Gill said that it likely would be Monday before charges are determined, but his office had already decided on Friday that the 16-year-olds would be prosecuted in the juvenile court system.
“We’re still in the screening process and haven’t made any final decisions [on charges],” Gill added.
No further details on the shooting investigation will be available until charges are filed, he said.
The incident occurred as the three boys, and two teenage girls, were celebrating the end of the school year at a home near 6800 South and Pine Rock Drive (3030 East), about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The boys had gone into a closet to look at a .45-caliber revolver and one of the 16-year-old’s was handling the gun, not knowing it was fully loaded, when it went off, Russo said.
After questioning, the two 16-year-old boys were arrested on suspicion of possession of a stolen firearm; one boy also was arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide. They both remained in juvenile detention on Friday.
Police said the handgun involved in the death had been taken, along with other firearms that have not been yet recovered, during a recent residential burglary in the Cottonwood Heights area.
One of Harley’s friends told The Salt Lake Tribune that he was “always there for everyone.”
“He was one of the coolest kids I knew,” said Chey Woodside, who will be a freshman at Brighton next year. “He was ... just a total sweetheart to everyone. He always set his problems off to the side to help others. He was a great kid and he’ll be dearly missed by everyone.”
Ricardo Logan had been friends with the victim since seventh grade.
“He was a pretty mellow kid,” said Logan, who, along with the victim, had just finished his junior year at Brighton. “He didn’t hold grudges against people. He was down for whatever, he’d want to go for a walk, want to go for a hike.”
Brighton High School had just begun its summer break when the news broke. However, principal Charisse Hilton said counselors and a school psychologist had been made available at the school to any students who wanted to talk.
Meanwhile, a fund was being set up at Wells Fargo Bank under Harley Jarrett’s name to help with funeral and other expenses.