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Manor teen shot by friend during 'reckless' horseplay, police say

| Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 2:51 p.m.
Colton Cline, 19, of Penn Township is led into the office of  Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Cline is accused of shooting a frirend in his home.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Colton Cline, 19, of Penn Township is led into the office of Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. Cline is accused of shooting a frirend in his home.

An all-too-familiar scenario of a teenager being shot while handling a weapon played out again on Tuesday in Penn Township, when police say an 18-year-old was hit in the chest with a shotgun blast during an afternoon of horseplay with a friend.

Although police initially reported that Tyler Fetter of Manor suffered “significant trauma” in the shooting shortly before 12:30 p.m., they later said he was listed in stable condition in Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville. A hospital spokesman was unable to provide details.

Fetter and his friend, Colton Cline, 19, were “goofing around” in Cline's Lux Road home when Cline picked up his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and pointed it at Fetter, police said in court documents filed in the case.

Not realizing the gun was loaded, Cline was moving it away from Fetter when it fired, Detective Todd DeNillo wrote in an affidavit of probable cause.

Cline, who touted himself on his Facebook page as an avid hunter and lover of trucks and all-terrain vehicles, ran to his mother's nearby bedroom to tell her that he'd shot Fetter and to summon help, police said.

Fetter and Cline chatted on Facebook earlier this week about plans to get together.

Cline was arraigned on charges of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault, and was being held in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail.

“We don't believe the intent ... was homicide,” township police Chief John Otto said. “We believe that this was a reckless act that took place.”

It is a story that has been heard before in Westmoreland and Fayette counties:

• Earlier this month, police charged Andrew Thomas Hustosky, 17, of Dunbar Township, Fayette County, as an adult, alleging he fatally shot William Oburn Little IV, 22, of Connellsville. Hustosky said the shooting was an accident and that he didn't think the gun was loaded. He is being held in the Fayette County Prison.

• Darrell Ross, a 17-year-old Connellsville Area High School student, was fatally shot in the back of the head in Uniontown in November. Police charged Hasani Simpkins, 20, of Uniontown, who said the shooting was accidental. Simpkins is awaiting formal arraignment in Common Pleas Court.

Psychologists say that teenage boys' attraction to guns is undeniable.

But the outcome can be deadly, statistics show.

In 2011, 15- to 19-year-old males were eight times more likely to die in a firearms-related incident than females of the same age, according to Child Trends Data Bank, a nonpartisan research center.

Dr. William Pollack, a Harvard University expert in the psychology of boys and young men, said there is some biological evidence that shows boys are more likely to engage in “action-oriented play and more excitement-oriented play” than girls.

“Accidental shootings with boys having guns we can stop tomorrow — if every real gun in every real house were locked in a way where you couldn't get to it if you were a child,” he said.

That would have to be combined with toy manufacturers not making guns that look real, and parents talking to their children about the differences between real guns and toys, he said.

Otto said officers who participate in the township's Drug Abuse Resistance Education program talk to second- and fifth-graders in the Penn-Trafford School District about the potential dangers of guns. Cub Scouts who tour the police department are warned of the dangers, too, he said.

“We use those opportunities as a means to preach gun safety,” Otto said. “We talk about it every chance we get.”

Cline faces a preliminary hearing on Jan. 28 before Harrison City District Judge Helen Kistler.

His parents left Kistler's court without speaking to reporters.

“I think, Mr. Cline, you realize that these are very serious charges,” Kistler told the teen.

Cline, who told Kistler he is unemployed, has court dates scheduled in connection with other brushes with the law.

He is scheduled for a March 26 preliminary hearing before District Judge Douglas Weimer on charges of theft and receiving stolen property in connection with a Nov. 28 incident in North Huntingdon. He was free on $10,000 unsecured bail in that case, according to court records.

A hearing for possible entry into a probationary program is set for Wednesday in connection with a Penn Township incident in March involving charges of forgery, theft and related charges, court records indicate.

Renatta Signorini and Rossilynne Skena Culgan are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Signorini can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com and Culgan can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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