Painesville police: 17-year-old shooting victim made up drive-by story

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PAINESVILLE, Ohio-- A teen's account of being shot didn't make sense to investigators in Painesville.

Officers were called to the area of Elm and Storrs streets at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday for a 17-year-old who suffered a gunshot wound to his back.

The teen told police three male suspects in a gray car shot him and fled the scene, according to Painesville police. But the story started to fall apart.

During the investigation, police learned the victim and his two friends were handling a gun inside a house on Storrs Street. That's when a round accidentally fired, hitting the 17-year-old.

“Directions of travel had changed depending on who asked the questions, which investigator, the location of where the entrance wound was didn’t make any sense to the story we were getting,” Painesville Police Chief Anthony Powalie said.

Powalie said the false story caused police to waste resources trying to track down suspects in a gray vehicle, as described by the 17 year-old. He said the teens might not have faced charges had they told the truth.

“When you do something wrong, just admit to it, take responsibility. In this case, they may have gotten reprimanded, they may not have gotten charged, but now they certainly will be,” he said.

Charges against the teens could include obstruction of justice and inducing panic, according to Powalie, who said adults could potentially face charges as well. Powalie said investigators still have not recovered the gun, and they are not sure where the teens got it. He said no adult was home at the time of the incident.

“If you're not trained with how to use a gun, if you're not familiar with how to use a gun, leave it alone,” Powalie said. “If you're a young child, tell somebody. Don’t touch it.”

An adult at the home where the shooting occurred declined to answer a reporter’s questions Monday.

Police said there was no threat to nearby Elm Street Elementary School or area residents.