By Peter D'Oench


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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A family is speaking out for the first time after a Miami Gardens teen accidentally killed his friend while showing off a gun.

Marie Tessier says her son and the victim were good friends who liked to play together. They lived right down the block from each other in Miami Gardens.

The accused shooter’s brother, Gerald Tessier, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench this was an accident – an accident that is now under investigation by police.

Candles adorn a makeshift memorial for 14-year-old Tavaris Rhodes who lost his life Saturday afternoon.

Loved ones gathered at his mother’s Opa-locka apartment.

“Tavaris was very outgoing. He was full of energy and playful. He was a child. You can’t believe this happened? No I can’t. I believe what happened was a sad situation right now,” said Latasha Sands, Rhodes’ aunt.

Miami Gardens police say a 14-year-old friend was showing a gun to Rhodes and another teen when it suddenly fired. Rhodes died after being struck by a bullet.

“Gun violence. Gun violence. This is something that has to stop,” Sands said.

Speaking for the first time, the accused shooter’s mother says she is sorry the accident happened.

“How does your child feel about what happened?” D’Oench asked her.

“He is hurt. Hurt about what happened,” Marie Tessier responded.

“How hard is this to deal with as a parent?” D’Oench followed up with.

“It is killing me. I can’t even stand it,” she said. “Well it is hitting me in two ways, for my son and the other side.”

“It’s bad. Somebody lost a kid and he was only 14 years old,” said Gerald Tessier, the accused shooter’s brother.

The accused shooter is charged with manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a minor.

“I was total accident. Two kids playing with a gun that they shouldn’t have been playing with,” said Gerald Tessier. “It was not gang related or anything, it was just two guys who for some reason we’re doing something with something they shouldn’t have been playing with.”

The suspect’s family attorney also spoke out on Monday, reiterating what the family has said.

“In terms of this case, it was an accident and I think the cops acted improperly,” said Alex Michaels.

Rhodes’ aunt has questions about the shooting.

“We want all the questions answered but at this time nobody can answer them but God,” Sands said.

Gerald Tessier told D’Oench he wasn’t sure who owned the gun or where it came from.

The 14-year-old suspect faces a hearing in juvenile court Tuesday. His family is planning to fight the charges against him.

Miami Gardens police are still looking for witnesses.

Peter D'Oench

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