HOOPER — A man accused in the shooting death of his brother during a camping trip near the Yuba Reservoir told police the incident was an accident, according to a probable cause statement.
Cameron Bryce Charlton, 17, of Hooper, who just finished his junior year at Fremont High School, died early Monday morning. His brother, Eric Charlton, 27, was arrested and booked into Juab County Jail on suspicion of manslaughter. He was released from jail Monday night after posting $5,000 cash bond, said Juab Sheriff’s Lt. Brent Pulver.
The Charltons and a group of about 18 others were camping at the Oasis campground.
The probable cause statement obtained by the Standard-Examiner says that a Juab County deputy interviewed Eric Charlton at the jail after his arrest.
“He said that he was sitting around the fire with his brother and his brother’s friend,” according to the statement. “Eric said he was showing his brother several different firearms techniques with a Colt 1911 .45-caliber handgun. Eric said he initially dropped the magazine out of the weapon and pulled the slide to the rear and showed Cameron and the juvenile that the weapon was empty before showing them the new techniques that he had just learned.”
Eric Charlton said after he was done showing them the techniques, he put the magazine back into the weapon and does not remember putting a live round in the chamber, according to the statement.
“He then said he placed the weapon on the ground and was talking to his brother about trust,” reads the statement. “He said he picked the gun up and swung it toward his brother, when the weapon discharged, striking his brother in the left temple.”
Eric Charlton told the deputy that after the shooting he started screaming for someone to call 911 and to help him save his brother.
“Eric said that he laid him on the ground and started to render aid,” the probable cause statement reads. “He said that he held his head and tried to stop the blood loss and asked the juvenile to start chest compressions. Eric said that he continued to try to save his brother’s life until EMTs took over.”
The juvenile, Cameron and Eric Charlton had been drinking beer and Eric Charlton was also drinking Captain Morgan rum at the time of the shooting, according to the probable cause statement.
A .45-caliber 1911-style gun, a magazine, a casing, a bullet and other items were recovered as evidence, according to the statement.
Eric is “absolutely distraught over what happened,” the boys’ grandfather, Stan Charlton, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “They loved each other. Cameron idolized Eric, and Eric thought the world of Cameron.”
Cameron Charlton hoped to follow his older brother into the Marines, his grandfather said. His older brother was given a medical discharge for an ankle injury, he said. The brothers enjoyed hunting and fishing together.
The shooting is “a tragic thing, and it shouldn’t have happened,” Stan Charlton said.
Eric Charlton, of West Haven, has no criminal record, but court records show he paid a number of fines or forfeited bail for a series of traffic infractions from 2002-2007 for speeding, driving on suspended or revoked licenses and having an expired registration.
Information from the Associated Press is included in this story.