SANTA CRUZ -- A 16-year-old Santa Cruz boy was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter after he shot a 15-year-old Watsonville boy Monday evening in a Center Street apartment, police said.

The suspect, who police have not named because he is a minor, is accused of firing a stolen 9 mm handgun into the upper torso of the 15-year-old boy, said Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark.

"It's incredibly senseless and unfortunate," Clark said Tuesday.

"Although the shooting was unintentional, I wouldn't say it was accidental. We're still looking at the exact circumstances of how the gun came to be fired, but it was in the hands of the person arrested."

The shooting happened about 6:45 p.m. Monday at a second-floor apartment on the 200 block of Center Street, directly across the street from the Santa Cruz police station.

Someone in another apartment called 911. Police found the 15-year-old wounded boy on the floor in a bedroom, Clark said. The 15-year-old had been visiting people he knew in the apartment. There were about eight people inside the small apartment when the shooting occurred.

Police tried to resuscitate the boy but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators detained and interviewed the eight people in the apartment. Another man fled and is wanted for questioning, but he is not a suspect, Clark said. Police declined to name or describe him.


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Authorities have not released the 15-year-old victim's name and do not plan to release it until the coroner has identified him. He was not known to Santa Cruz police, Clark said.

The 16-year-old suspected shooter is a gang member, Clark said. However, his gang affiliation did not motivate the shooting, Clark said. The 16-year-old is being held at Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall, authorities said.

The stolen 9 mm handgun believed to have been used in the killing was recovered outside the apartment. Clark said the gun was reported stolen out of a vehicle in the driveway of a Santa Cruz home in May.

Clark said the killing could have been prevented.

"We put the information out there about the danger of firearms and the danger of associating with gang members. This was really the perfect storm of both these things that ended this young man's life."

It was the first reported homicide in the city of Santa Cruz and the third in Santa Cruz County in 2014.

Santa Cruz police ask anyone with information to call investigations at 420-5820, the anonymous tip line at 831-420-5995 or leave a tip at www.santacruzpolice.com or on its cellphone application at http://m.santacruzpolice.com. ------ (c)2014 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at www.santacruzsentinel.com