Internet postings indicate a Manchester man killed last week had been shot before. And it appears it was in the company of the same friend now charged in his death.
WCAX News obtained home video that shows Jeff Charbonneau 15 months before he was shot to death last week in Manchester. He's bleeding, telling his friend Nick to check out a wound to his inner thigh. "Nick come here!" Charbonneau shouted in the video from August 2009. "Nick, this ain't a joke, dude!"
One of Charbonneau's friends-- who wanted to stay anonymous-- tells WCAX News Nick Bell filmed that video. It shows the minor injury Charbonneau suffered from a BB gun, and in the background, you can hear a man laughing.
We don't see if Bell shot Charbonneau, but on Bell's Facebook page last year, he joked about what Charbonneau said before getting hurt. He attributed these words to his friend: "Aint no way that bb gun's guna make it through these here Carharts. (sic)" This Facebook page has since come down.
Now, Nick Bell is facing a possible 15 years in prison for manslaughter for another shooting on Thanksgiving Day. But this time, Charbonneau was hit in the chest and didn't survive. Bell pleaded not guilty to the felony charge in court Monday.
Bell told police the shooting was a prank gone wrong; that he wanted a non-lethal sting to jolt his sleeping buddy awake. But it turned out he grabbed a .22-caliber rifle, not the kind of BB gun we're told was used in the 2009 goofing off that was captured on videotape.
"Always treat a firearm like it's loaded," warned Jay O'Brien, the owner of BJ's Hunting and Shooting Supply in Williston. At BJ's, O'Brien gives gun locks to customers buying new and used weapons. They make it impossible to pull a trigger.
"You slip it through the trigger guard, and put the other piece over here," O'Brien demonstrated. "And you lock it, and the gun is essentially disabled."
According to partial 911 transcripts released as part of police paperwork, Bell told emergency responders he found the loaded rifle hanging in a room in the house where he and Charbonneau were staying. Homeowners are not required to use gun locks or keep their weapons in safes, but O'Brien says some of his customers tell him taking those steps gives them peace of mind.
"It's a big responsibility to have a firearm, so therefore, you have to carry your thought process through," O'Brien said. "Is someone going to come into my house who maybe isn't familiar with firearms? Or if they find one, what will they do? You have to plan ahead."
Charbonneau said in that home video being shot with the BB gun was not a joke. Gun safety experts say firearms are never a laughing matter; that rule number one of gun handling is to never point a weapon at anyone, keeping it pointed down until you've identified your target.
O'Brien sells gun locks at his store for $10-$15, but you can get them free. The Burlington Police Department gives gun locks away at the department headquarters in the lobby of the uniformed services lobby. They're provided by Project Childsafe.