Teenager Pleads Not Guilty in Friend's Shooting Death


A 14-year-old Whittier boy accused of fatally shooting his teenage friend pleaded not guilty to murder and involuntary manslaughter charges Wednesday at Los Padrinos Juvenile Courthouse in Downey.

Christopher Simmons is accused of using his parents' rifle to shoot Nicholas Calamusa, 15, in the forehead while playing Friday afternoon at the Simmons home.

Whittier Police Officer Alan Dela Pena said authorities have sufficient evidence to prove that Simmons had control of the rifle and pulled the trigger. "He intended to pull the trigger, but we don't know if he intended to hurt his friend," Dela Pena said.

The shooting has shaken many of the teenagers who were either Nicholas' classmates or skated with him at the city skate park.

Both the Simmons and the Calamusa families have described the shooting as a tragedy that demonstrates how dangerous guns can be.

"It was a terrible accident that shouldn't have happened to anyone," said Nicholas' mother, Pamela Pellizzon. "The kid who picked up the gun didn't know what he was doing."

A memorial in front of the Simmons home has attracted candles, flowers and letters.

A candlelight vigil at the skating park drew nearly 100 people Tuesday night. As the sun set and candles were lighted, the teenager's friends gathered. Amid the sound of skates striking against the concrete, the young group honored Nicholas' memory.

"Our hearts go out to the Calamusa family," said Christopher's father, Ron Simmons. "We loved Nick like our own."

After a moment of silence and several prayers from the group, Pellizzon addressed the teenagers: "Please don't handle guns. Please don't let this happen to one of you."

Police said Wednesday that they had spoken with one youth who was with Nicholas and Christopher when the rifle was fired.

The 13-year-old boy said in an interview that he saw Christopher point the gun at Nicholas as they joked but that he did not believe Christopher meant to kill his friend.

"He didn't know it would fire," he said.

Nicholas' teachers described him as an active student. His friends remembered his passion for in-line skating. His mother mentioned Nicholas' diligence in helping his grandfather by walking with him soon after he suffered a stroke.

She said she remembers saying goodbye to her son Friday before he went to the Simmons home.

"Stay out of trouble," she remembered telling him. "Be good and I love you."

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