Cops: Teen Killed Friend While Testing Body Armor

2 Florida teens are being charged as adults
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2022 7:00 AM CDT
Cops: Teen Killed Friend While Testing Body Armor
Christopher Vining.   (Belleview Police Department)

One Florida teenager is dead and two more are facing potential long prison sentences after they took turns shooting at each other, relying on an armored vest to protect them, police say. Christopher Vining and Colton Whitler, both 17, are being charged as adults in the death of 16-year-old Christoper Leroy Broad Jr., Fox 35 reports. They were arrested on Thursday, four days after the shooting. Investigators "determined that Vining and Broad were taking turns shooting at each other while wearing a vest which contained a form of body armor," police in Belleview, around 55 miles north of Orlando, said in a news release. "Vining shot at Broad while he was wearing the vest, and he was struck."

Vining will be charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child with a firearm and Whitler will be charged with providing false information to law enforcement, police say. WKMG reports that according to arrest affidavits, Whitler initially claimed that unknown people had fired shots at the home the teens were in, but a fourth teen gave investigators video showing the teens shooting each other, with Broad shooting Vining once before they switched roles. Joe Vanhouten, an Army veteran who lives next door, says he saw "a teenage boy come outside all hysterical screaming" after the shooting.

"I was always taught from a young age you never play with guns," says Vanhouten, who describes Vining as a good kid and a typical teenager. "It's just a sad story all the way around," he says. Dr. David Thomas, a forensics professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, tells WESH that a lot of people don't understand armored vests. "The biggest misnomer is that they're bulletproof because they're not," he says. "They're ballistic vests and they're rated on scales of what type of bullet they'll stop." Police say Vining shot Broad a total of five times and one of the shots hit an area not covered by the vest. (More Florida stories.)

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