Name of Fairbanks teen accused in fatal shooting released

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) Prosecutors say a 14-year-old Fairbanks boy accused of fatally shooting a friend showed an extreme indifference to human life.''

James E. Gillen is charged with second-degree murder in the March 30 death of 14-year-old Benjamin Schertz. Gillen had been handling a gun when the shooting occurred.

He was arraigned in juvenile court Thursday.

Gillen is the son of Valarie Nava Gillen and the grandson of Joseph Nava. Both have been gun safety advocates in the community and taught concealed handgun courses. Nava has been a National Rifle Association instructor since 1962.

In a 2000 interview, Nava Gillen said the family has a two-lane shooting range in the basement.

James Gillen also is charged with four counts of third-degree assault and one count each of fourth-degree and fifth-degree misconduct involving weapons.

According to a document filed Thursday with the Fairbanks Youth Facility, Schertz was shot with a Taurus Titanium .38-caliber revolver.

Gillen is accused of taking the revolver and a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol from his home without permission two days before the shooting and taking the guns to Schertz's house. He also is charged with being under the influence of marijuana when the fatal shot was fired.

Gillen also is accused of pointing one of the guns at four other juveniles in the days before the shooting. Alaska State Troopers originally arrested Gillen on charges of pointing the gun at seven victims and said he dry-fired the weapon at some of them.

Nava Gillen declined to talk discuss the charges filed against her son when contacted by phone Thursday afternoon.

That's just one side of the story,'' she said. You haven't heard the other side of it.''

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