Teenager charged in shooting death of Edmonds girl

A boy brought a gun to Gala Zuehlke’s home, documents say. “Yo, look what I got,” he said. She died moments later.

Gala Zuehlke

Gala Zuehlke

EDMONDS — A teenage boy accused of shooting a 17-year-old Edmonds girl is charged in adult court with first-degree manslaughter.

The boy pleaded not guilty Dec. 7, and a Snohomish County judge raised his bail to $500,000.

Gala Zuehlke, an Edmonds-Woodway High School senior, was fatally wounded at her home on Nov. 30. An obituary described her as a “creative and caring person” who loved art and wanted to become a teacher. She planned to attend Skagit Valley College next year.

Charging papers describe in further detail how the boy, 16, allegedly brought a gun to Zuehlke’s apartment.

He reportedly told police that he got the gun — a .44-caliber revolver with a black grip — from another friend’s apartment. He said he rifled through a dresser, saw the gun and knew he wanted it. It looked powerful, he reportedly said.

The boy later went to Zuehlke’s apartment and showed her and her friend the revolver.

“Yo, look at what I got,” he said, and pointed the gun at objects around the room, according to court papers.

He aimed the gun at Zuehlke’s friend and pulled the trigger, he told detectives. The gun clicked, moving the bullet closer to the chamber. The girls told him to take out the bullet, records show. He said nothing would happen.

The boy allegedly said he wanted to see their reactions. He said he figured it was safe because he thought the bullet was at the bottom of the cylinder.

Then he aimed the gun at Zuehlke, he said. The bullet struck her in the face. The boy has said it was an accident.

The county medical examiner determined that the shooter must have stood 1 to 3 feet away from the girl, based on details at the scene.

What happened afterward was panic.

The boy went into hiding. He said he thought about leaving the state to “start over.” Zuehlke’s other friend ran back to her own home a half-mile away, where her father called 911.

Detectives were tipped off that the boy might be catching a ride to Oregon. They found him three days later at a friend’s house.

They asked him where the gun was. He said he took a rideshare to Darrington and threw it off a bridge and into the river, according to the charges.

After obtaining a search warrant, however, police say they found a gun like the one he described. It was inside the couch at his friend’s house.

The boy’s next court hearing is set for January.

An allegation of first-degree manslaughter means a person is accused of causing a death through recklessness. Under Washington state law, anyone 16 or 17 facing that charge generally is transferred into adult court.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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