18-year-old arrested on manslaughter charge for death of Mesa high school football player

Police say a Red Mountain High School football player was handling a gun and shot his teammate, killing him, at a Mesa home on Sunday.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 4:30 PM MST|Updated: May. 11, 2023 at 6:52 PM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- An 18-year-old is facing a manslaughter charge after he was handling a gun and shot his football teammate at his Mesa home, according to court paperwork released on Thursday night. Peter “PJ” Clabron III lied to police about what happened early Sunday but later self-surrendered on Thursday around 2:45 p.m., investigators said.

Peter “PJ” Clabron III self-surrendered on Thursday.
Peter “PJ” Clabron III self-surrendered on Thursday.(Mesa Police Department)

According to the police, Clabron, 18-year-old Jeremiah Aviles and another person were in Clabron’s bedroom, and Clabron was handling a gun, possibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol, just before 2 a.m. Sunday near University Drive and Gilbert Road. The witness said the gun went off while Clabron had it, police said. Court paperwork said the same witness saw the gun go off again, and Clabron tossed it to the ground. Clabron looked surprised, according to the witness.

Clabron called 911, and his first statement was, “The gun just went off,” according to court paperwork. He also said the shooter had left the house, but police said that was a lie. When officers arrived, they found the body of Aviles. During their first interview, police said Clabron and the witness claimed the shooter had left the house. But the witness later came forward with the truth, naming Clabron. Clabron originally named another person as the shooter, but that person was in the house but not in the bedroom with the gun went off, police said.

Detectives later looked at Clabron’s phone and found videos of him pointing the gun at the victim several times that night before and leading up to the shooting. They also found a video of Clabron’s phone that showed him shooting a gun while in the bed of a pickup truck in his neighborhood on May 6, court paperwork said. Police said they discovered a message from Clabron that said, “We just shot the guns.” When asked the receiver of the message asked why, Clabron responded, “Fort (sic) fun.” He was booked into jail on one count of manslaughter and one count of unlawful discharge of a firearm in connection to the Sunday shooting and one count of unlawful discharge of a firearm in connection to the May 6 shooting.

The announcement is welcome news for Aviles’ family members, who flew in from California. They joined the community for a vigil in honor of Aviles at Red Mountain Park on Wednesday night. Candles lit up the night sky as different people who knew the 18-year-old spoke about how much he meant to them. “I forgive who shot my brother. I just want him to admit what he did, do his time. He’ll be accountable in this life or the next,” said Omar Aviles Jr., Jeremiah’s brother, before the vigil.

A vigil is planned for Thursday night at 8 p.m. at Red Mountain High School.