Imagine you are 16 years old and you and your friends get yourselves involved in a petty burglary and thievery ring in your neighborhood. The neighbors know the identity of at least one of you, and fed up with your shenanigans, they call the police to get intervention.
One of your friends gets caught, and the police then come to your house. With your mother’s permission, they enter your home to look for you, but you aren’t there. Since your mother has let them search, they find items that they claim are related to the burglary incidents.
While the police are inside your home searching, another set of officers spies you in the backyard hiding in the bushes. You run away from them, run through your front yard, somehow eluding the officers that are out there as well and manage to climb in a window to get back inside your home, where you come upon other officers still in there conducting a search.
You run past those officers and into a bathroom, where, for unknown reasons, you grab a gun and begin loading it. You fire off one shot.
The officers don’t take their usual opportunity to unload their weapons into you. Instead, they run outside and call SWAT, because now it’s a standoff situation, even though only one round was fired and no one got hit or hurt.
Four hours later, after no response from you, the police re-enter your home and find you on the bathroom floor wounded with what they say is a “self-inflicted” gunshot wound to the back of the head.
What made you go from petty thief to suicidal teen in a matter of minutes?
No one knows, but that is exactly what Las Vegas Metro Police want everyone to believe happened to 16-year-old Anthony Garrett in the late afternoon of July 13.
It’s unclear if the gunshot was accidental or an act of suicide. It took at least four hours for the boy to receive medical care, because when the shot went off, police thought it was intended for officers and ducked for cover. They evacuated the family from the home, called in SWAT and set up a barricade response, trying to negotiate with the boy from outside.
It wasn’t until a SWAT team made entry late Wednesday that officers realized the boy had been wounded. The boy was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center as distraught relatives screamed in shock. He died at the hospital.
Anthony and two other boys were suspected of burglary in their housing community in East Las Vegas. The police were called by a neighbor at about 2:30 p.m. that Wednesday. The neighbor was fed up with a “plague” of recent burglaries. While waiting for the police to arrive, the neighbor managed to catch and detain one of the boys until police arrived.
The version of the story told by Metro PD to the Review-Journal says that when they found out where Anthony lived, they went to his house and got permission to enter. Then, according to the paper:
A few minutes later, officers noticed the boy hiding in the backyard, near an oleander bush, and chased him, [police spokesman Jay] Rivera said. They quickly lost the boy, who had actually ran around to the front yard, then re-entered the same home through a window and, for unknown reasons, began loading a gun in a bathroom, Rivera said.
The boy didn’t realize at least two officers were still inside the home.
“They confront him right away, order him to put the weapon down,” Rivera said. But instead, the boy ran into a connected bedroom, where officers heard one round discharge.
The round did not injure police, and officers did not return fire. That’s when the barricade response began.
The version told to the Review-Journal’s Rachel Crosby on July 13 has not changed much in the days since. On Monday the coroner ruled Anthony’s death a suicide. A GoFundMe set up to collect funeral expenses for his family has a note that maintains Anthony was shot in the back of the head, which makes for an odd placement for a suicide wound.
So what really happened to Anthony Garrett? Why are details so scarce at this point if it is a clear-cut case of suicide?
And why do these cases always end up like this? Some kid who probably would have gotten probation at the most decides that it would be better to just be dead? Does that make sense to anyone?
What really happened to 16-year-old Anthony Garrett?
We shouldn’t stop asking this question until we find out some real answers.