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Utah brothers talking about trust when gun discharged
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 27-year-old Weber County man, his 17-year-old brother and another teen were all drinking together prior to a fatal Memorial Day shooting in Juab County, police reported Tuesday.

Eric Charlton, of West Haven, accidentally shot his 17-year-old brother, Cameron Bryce Charlton, during weekend camping trip in Yuba State Park, according to the Juab County Sheriff's Office.

The shooting occurred at about 3 a.m. Monday, as the two brothers and a 16-year-old were sitting around the campfire drinking, according to Juab County jail booking documents.

Eric Charlton — who had served in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps — told police he had been showing his brother and the 16-year-old different firearms techniques with a .45-caliber hand gun.

Charlton said he initially removed the magazine from the gun, and even pulled the slide back to show the teens the weapon was empty, before demonstrating the techniques, according to the booking documents.

Charlton told police he then replaced the magazine, but did not remember charging the gun's chamber with a live round. Charlton said he put the gun on the ground and was talking to his brother about trust. He then picked up the gun, swung it toward his brother and it went off, hitting the teen in the left temple, according to the documents.

The 16-year-old, who witnessed the shooting, told police that they all had been drinking beer, and that Eric Charlton also had been drinking rum, according to the documents.

The teen confirmed Eric Charlton's version of events, saying the two brothers had been talking about trust when Eric Charlton picked up the gun, swung it around and it went off.

After the gun discharged, Eric Charlton screamed for help, tried to stop the bleeding and gave mouth-to-mouth breaths to his brother, the 16-year-old told police.

Eric Charlton and the 16-year-old continued to try to help the wounded teen until help arrived, jail documents state. The teen died at the scene, police said.

Despite a determination by police that the shooting was not intentional, Charlton was booked into jail on suspicion of manslaughter

Juab County Attorney Jared Eldridge said a criminal charge likely will be filed, but the severity has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, Eric Charlton posted bail Monday and was released.

During a jail interview, Charlton told police he did not intend to shoot his brother. Police observed during the interview that Charlton "appeared to be very distraught about this incident."

The shooting is still under investigation, but police said alcohol was a contributing factor. Taken into evidence was the Colt 1911 pistol, a magazine, a .45-caliber bullet casing and a .45-caliber bullet.

Cameron Charlton's body was transported to the Utah Medical Examiner's office for an autopsy.

The brother's grandfather Stan Charlton has said that Cameron Charlton, who had just finished his junior year at Fremont High School, idolized his brother, Eric, and wanted to join the Marine Corps when he got older. Stan Charlton described his deceased grandson as a "fun-loving high school kid" whom everyone liked.

Stan Charlton added that the teen liked hunting and fishing with his big brother Eric.

"They loved each other," the grandfather said, adding that his older grandson was absolutely distraught over what happened.

rorellana@sltrib.com

Death • "They loved each other," their grandfather says.
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