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Boy shot in town of Sharon identified, declared brain dead

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Gazette staff
July 10, 2014

SHARON—Two boys tied to a town of Sharon shooting that left one of them brain dead were friends, a Walworth County official said.

The 11-year-old boy shot in the head near Sharon on Wednesday was identified Thursday morning as Eric Gutierrez.

The other boy, whom investigators are calling a witness, is 13 years old, according to a press release. His name is not being released.

Eric was declared brain dead at 12:38 a.m. Thursday, said David Fladten, Walworth County deputy coroner.

"He's been declared brain dead but not clinically dead," Deputy Coroner Thomas Miller said.

He remained on life support Thursday at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville, Miller said.

"The family gets the doctor to make that declaration that he is brain dead, and then they have decisions to make after that, the family, for possible donations and things like that, but he's just on life support, now," Miller said.

Fladten, the deputy coroner in charge of the case, said Thursday morning he not yet spoken with the family.

"It's technically not a coroner's case, yet. It doesn't become our case until the child is actually declared clinically dead," Fladten said.

Fladten said he couldn't comment on whether the family is considering donating Eric's organs, but he agreed that is the most common reason why a body would be kept on life support after a declaration of brain death.

Eric, who lived in the town of Sharon, will remain on life support for a couple days, and his organs will be donated after matches are found, according to a Wednesday post on his mother's Facebook page.

Rebecca Galarza, Eric's mother, wrote on Facebook there is "no chance of a recovery" from the gunshot wound to her son's forehead.

Her Facebook page includes photos of her son in his hospital bed.

Authorities continue to investigate the shooting reported at 12:33 p.m. Wednesday.

Walworth County sheriff's deputies and Sharon police responded to a 911 call of a person shot in the head in a wooded area behind a home at N1602 County K, Undersheriff Kurt Picknell said Wednesday.

They found a juvenile male with a gunshot wound to the head and applied first aid until Sharon Rescue arrived and transported the boy to the hospital in Janesville, Picknell said.

Sheriff David Graves said more than one handgun was recovered by investigators at the scene.

Other pieces of evidence also were collected, but Picknell would not comment on specifics.

Deputies on Wednesday afternoon were speaking to the 13-year-old, to both families and to others with information about the case, Picknell said.

The 13-year-old witness at the home where the incident occurred, Picknell said Thursday afternoon.

Graves said Thursday morning investigators were reviewing evidence including statements from the 13-year-old.

"Right now, he is just a witness," Graves said.

"All the evidence—we're going through it to try to figure out exactly what happened," Graves said.

The circumstances of the shooting have yet to be released.

Picknell would not comment on who fired the shot that injured Eric.

Investigators are working to determine the number of shots fired and if the boys had firearms safety training, Picknell said.

Eric was not playing with guns, and his family believes he was shot accidentally, Galarza wrote on her Facebook page.

Eric leaves behind two sisters, two brothers, a mother and father, according to information on a website created to collect donations to cover funeral costs.

Family and friends describe Eric in various website posts as an "angel" and "great kid" who "will be missed but never forgotten."



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