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Details in teen shooting death released

Brian Powers - bpowers@perutribune.com

PERU — More details have been released on the Feb. 3 shooting death of 18-year-old Nathaniel Hopper and the subsequent arrest of 18-year-old Logansport native Brayden Berkshire.

According to a probable cause affidavit written by Miami County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Gary Glassburn, Hopper, Berkshire and an unidentified third person were in the residence together at the time of Hopper’s death.

“Ms. Berkshire reported Nathaniel picked a gun off the floor, ejecting the magazine, placing it to his head and pulling the trigger causing the weapon to fire,” Glassburn wrote. “She stated it was an accident.”

Berkshire also reportedly had a wound to her left hand.

The unidentified third person allegedly claimed to have not seen the incident, due to being asleep.

According to the affidavit, investigators obtained a search warrant for the scene, resulting in findings which were inconsistent with Berkshire’s statements.

“During the investigation of the crime scene, it was discovered the handgun had what readily appeared to be blood stains on the slide area and grip,” Glassburn wrote.

The weapon was reportedly found in Hopper’s right hand, but the palm of that hand did not have blood “readily apparent” staining it. According to this information, investigators deduced the hand was not “near the blood source during or after the blood-letting even occurred.”

According to the affidavit, central Indiana-based forensic pathologist Dr. Thomas Sozio performed an autopsy Monday, declaring the official cause of death a gunshot wound to the head.

Investigators reportedly spoke with Berkshire later Monday, where she provided a different statement.

Berkshire allegedly told interviewers she and Hopper were playing with the weapon and he pointed the weapon at her, which reportedly caused her to point the weapon back at Hopper’s head.

“Hopper reportedly told her to pull the trigger that nothing would happen,” Glassburn wrote in the affidavit. “She admitted to holding the gun, pointing it at the victim’s head and pulling the trigger.”

The suspect also reportedly said she believed the weapon to be unloaded.

According to the affidavit, Berkshire’s action not only killed Hopper, but also sent the round through her left hand, as she was allegedly holding the victim by the back of the head.

“Berkshire stated that after the shooting, she placed the gun in the deceased’s right hand and placed a magazine in his left hand,” Glassburn wrote. “This was done in an attempt to mislead investigating officers, causing it to appear as if he shot himself.”

Berkshire reportedly admitted she had been drinking alcohol as well as smoking marijuana at the time. She was arrested and charged with Level 5 felony reckless homicide and Level 6 felony obstruction of justice. She was released from the Miami County Jail on a $1,500 cash bond.