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Copiague man’s shooting of friend ‘an accident,’ lawyer says

Nefi Reyes, 18, of Copiague, is led out

Nefi Reyes, 18, of Copiague, is led out of the Third Precinct in Bay Shore for arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip on March 19, 2016. Reyes is charged with manslaughter 2nd degree for shooting and killing his friend, Wilson Gil-Torres, Friday, March 18, 2016, in Copiague. Credit: James Carbone

An 18-year-old Copiague man was trying to scare his close friend when he pointed a loaded .22-caliber revolver at him and pulled the trigger, Suffolk County authorities said.

But detectives said Nefi Reyes was wrong in thinking the safety was on.

As the teenagers stood inside Reyes’ home shortly before noon Friday, the gun fired, putting a bullet into the chest of Wilson Gil-Torres, 18, authorities said.

The victim, a Copiague High School senior, was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, where he was pronounced dead.

Charged with second-degree manslaughter, a felony, Reyes did not enter a plea during his arraignment Saturday at First District Court in Central Islip. He was held without bail.

His Legal Aid attorney called the fatal shooting “an accident.”

Reyes made an oral admission to police, according to the criminal complaint, which said “he knew the gun was loaded, he pointed the gun at the victim to scare him, he pulled the trigger thinking the gun was locked, and the gun fired . . . ”

About a dozen tearful family members and friends gathered at the courthouse to support Reyes. They declined to comment afterward, but a man in court with the family said: “He didn’t mean to do it. He feels worse than anybody.”

The man said the gun Reyes used belongs to the family, but police could not immediately confirm that information.

In the victim’s neighborhood, Anthony Vasquez, 17, of Copiague, a friend of both Gil-Torres and Reyes, said “those two had nothing but love for each other.”

“I heard he was messing around, and he accidentally shot him,” Vasquez said of Reyes. “No way he did that on purpose. They never had any problems.”

Vasquez wasn’t at the Great Neck Road house when the shooting occurred, but he said he heard from friends that Reyes is “real upset” about what happened.

“He shouldn’t be dead, that’s all I want to say,” said Eliza Torres of Copiague, who identified herself as a relative of the victim. “If you don’t know how to handle a gun, don’t handle it. That boy didn’t know how to handle it.”

Reyes called police after the shooting, authorities said.

The criminal investigation is ongoing. Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, head of the Suffolk homicide squad, said Friday that police were “interviewing all the people who we think were at the scene.”

With Sarah Armaghan

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