Friends thought rifles were unloaded in deadly accident

Friends thought rifles were unloaded in deadly accident »Play Video
Ciqala Miller.

MASON COUNTY, Wash. -- The Skokomish tribe near Shelton is mourning the death of 14-year-old Ciqala Miller. Deputies believe he was accidentally shot to death by his 13-year-old friend as both boys pointed hunting rifles at each other believing they weren't loaded.

In court documents, the boy said he and Ciqala had spent the day fishing and were playing around at Ciqala's house on Skokomish tribal land north of Shelton Tuesday evening.

"They were even arguing over who caught the bigger fish and playing and they both grabbed rifles and were playing and one of the rifles went off," said Mason county chief criminal deputy Ryan Spurling.

The 13-year-old immediately went looking for help.

"The young boy come running out and was asking us to call 911 and was really panicky," said neighbor Annette Smith. 

Smith said she was first at the house to find Ciqala on the floor of the hallway taking his last breaths with little chance of saving him.

"There was no way," she said.

Ciqala is from a prominent Skokomish family. His uncle is the tribal chairman. His father, Rick, is a prominent hunter. No word yet on whether the prosecutor will pursue the fact that hunting rifles were so easily accessible.

"There are different firearms rules as far as has a child had a hunter-safety class, have they hunted, that type of thing. Handguns are different than long guns in some of those respects," Spurling said.

Smith is also a member of the tribal council. 

"There's also accidents that do happen and this one here was a really bad accident," she said. "I really feel bad for both families."

Both families expressed concern the 13-year-old was in a fragile mental state and on suicide watch in juvenile detention. They asked for him to be allowed to go home under house arrest while the legal process moved ahead. The judge agreed.

Tuesday night tribal members say they gathered around Ciqala's body as it was brought out and sang while holding candles to allow the spirit to leave. There will be a candle walk at the tribal center to continue the traditional sendoff on Wednesday night.