Caretaker faces charges after special needs man accidentally shoots, kills another

A special needs teen accidentally shot and killed another outside a north Fulton County store Tuesday afternoon, according to police. Now the shooter’s caretaker faces involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct charges.

A group of teens and young men with special needs were driving on a camping trip as part of the Tucker-based organization “My Buddy and Me,” Roswell police said in a news release.

Gerard Brister

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

While the driver and caretaker of the group, Gerard Brister, 35, of Brookhaven, went inside Mountain Motorsports on the 1200 block of Upper Hembree Road around 12:45 p.m., he left six of the young men in the group’s SUV, the release said.

While Brister was in the store, a 21-year-old with “significantly diminished capabilities” picked up a handgun that was left under the seat and fatally shot 17-year-old Zachary Chambless, of Dunwoody, the release said.

A 63-year-old bystander in the parking lot turned up at North Fulton Hospital with a graze wound to the hand, according to police. Witnesses told police they heard two gunshots.

It is apparent the shooting was accidental, Roswell police spokesman Zac Frommer said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The 21-year-old has not been named, and itt is not clear who owns the gun used in the shooting.

“This whole thing is very sensitive because the shooter was special needs, the victim was special needs and our witnesses are special needs,” Frommer said. “It’s going to be quite an undertaking to debrief the witnesses and every one involved.”

Brister has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct, and he will be transported to the Fulton County Jail, the release said. More reckless conduct charges may be added later.

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