TALLMADGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - An Ottawa County teen is in critical condition after being shot in the face during what authorities say was a game of Russian Roulette. His friend now faces an attempted manslaughter charge.
Authorities told 24 Hour News 8 it happened just after nine Wednesday night in the 3900 block of Leonard Street in Tallmadge Township.
Ottawa County Sheriff's Department Lt. Mark Bennett told 24 Hour News 8 the initial call for help was reported as an attempted suicide
"It became apparent that it was not a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that there was some horseplay with the firearm going on," said Ottawa County Sheriff's lieutenant Mark Bennett.
Bennett said emergency crews arrived at the scene to find 16-year-old Brandon Kuiper shot in the face "from a close range."
"[It was] very chaotic. The kids seemed to be very traumatized," said Bennett.
According to court records, a detective told a judge that Kuiper was shot when he and 18-year-old suspect Richard Usher, Jr. were playing Russian Roulette with a .22 caliber handgun.
"There wasn't any disagreement any argument any fight prior to this event," said Bennett. "The gun was pointed at the victim and the trigger was pulled. We don't believe at this particular point the probable cause exists to substantiate any premeditation in that act, but clearly the gun was pointed and the trigger was pulled."
Bennett said the lack of intent is why the sheriff's department believes attempted manslaughter is the appropriate charge.
He went on to say that the suspect's mother and grandfather were in the home at the time of the incident, on an upper floor.
Four other teens between the ages of 17 and 19 were also in the home at the time of the shooting but not injured. Witnesses and Bennett said alcohol and marijuana were being used at the time.
"Unfortunately there was some drug use there was some alcohol use that we're looking into the origin of those things," said Bennett. "But that's of concern to us. That, mixed with the horseplay of the firearm, is part of the equation here that caused this tragic result."
Kuiper was transported to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids with life-threatening injuries.
Usher was arrested Wednesday night, and was taken to the Ottawa County Jail. He was arraigned Thursday afternoon on one count of attempted manslaughter, a 5-year felony, and a charge of felony firearm, a 2-year felony.
Bond was set at $200,000 cash or surety.
Adam Trowbridge, a friend of both Kuiper and Usher said their group of friends is "praying dearly for [Kuiper]." He said they are also praying for Usher.
"They're both great people. Richey, 18, he's a great person. He's trying to get through school. He's trying to make something of himself along with Brandon. I never would have expected something like this to happen," said Trowbridge. "My heart goes out to them."
Authorities said they have learned it wasn't uncommon for Usher to horse around with the gun. Bennett told 24 Hour News 8, the sheriff's department has responded multiple times to that neighborhood on reports of shots fired.
"We've learned through our investigation it was not uncommon for that group of individuals to take that gun out of its storage place and play with the gun," said Bennett. "Obviously in this particular situation, the gun was loaded and had tragic results."
Trowbridge said that he had been at Usher's home many times before "to shoot squirrels."
According to authorities, the gun appears to be registered to another family member who lives at the house, and Usher had it in his room for "some time" before last night's incident.
A family member of Usher declined to comment just minutes after the 18-year-old was charged.
"Stop right there," the family member said. "I have no comment and if you turn on your camera we will have problems."
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