Friends, family grieve officials await autopsy after Arundel shooting

Pal says boy harassed, but wouldn't kill self

November 13, 1998|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

He had just returned home from getting a haircut and picking up his uniform for the dishwashing job he was to start tonight when 15-year-old Jared Sala and his best friend decided to duck into the woods nearby for a smoke. Two hours later Sala was dead.

The Chesapeake High School sophomore died of a gunshot wound to the face Wednesday evening. Police are awaiting an autopsy report to help determine if the death was a homicide, a suicide or an accident, Anne Arundel County police said.

Sala and Denny Staubs, also 15, went into the wooded ravine near their Pasadena homes mostly to help Staubs figure out how to tell his parents about the suspension he had gotten that day for talking back to teachers.

They sat on leaves, Staubs said yesterday, and Sala talked about a movie he had seen on television and about the watch he planned to give to a 25-year-old neighbor he had a crush on.

And then Sala showed him his gun, a .38-caliber handgun, Staubs said. Staubs thought he had gotten rid of the weapon. Sala had told him he had kept it because it made him feel "that he had all the power," he said. "He probably had it because some of his friends were giving him a hard time," Staubs said. "I figured he got it from up in the city, it ain't that hard to buy one on the street."

After that, Staubs went home to face his father, leaving Sala behind.

"I heard this loud bang, I ran back to him, and he was lying there," Staubs said. "I was like, 'Jared, stop playing!' This squirt of blood came out the side of his face, and I ran to the red house across the street and knocked on the door."

'Senseless, hideous mistake'

Sala was found face down in the woods, about 20 feet from the 200 block of Maryland Ave. The handgun was next to him.

"He was all white, not moving his right jaw," said Staubs. "I said, 'I need you,' and he started moving his mouth."

Sala was airlifted to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead at 6: 30 p.m.

"This was a senseless, hideous mistake that should have never happened," said his tearful mother, Nancy Sala.

Jared Sala had been harassed by schoolmates over the past few months, his friend's mother, Cindy Staubs, said, because he was small. "They liked picking on him because of his size."

Sala was an avid fisherman who caught the crabs for his family's Fourth of July festivities, his mother said. He was a member of the Junior Bass Club and had his own boat and motor.

"Jared had many friends. He loved children, he loved the elderly," said his mother. "But he was a typical teen-ager who faced all the typical problems a teen-ager faces."

'Just wanted to fit in'

Sala, who started at Chesapeake in the fall after attending a private school in Howard County, "just wanted to fit in," said his 18-year-old sister, Jodi, standing in front of the family's ranch house in the 300 block of North Carolina Ave. in the Boulevard Park neighborhood near Grays Creek. She is a freshman at Baltimore City Community College.

A crowd of neighborhood youngsters gathered yesterday near the woods.

One group of teen-agers left a vase of flowers at the spot where Sala was shot with a note saying they would remember him forever.

Staubs brought a wreath, with a blue banner across it that read "BEST FRIEND." Sala's sister said the two boys had been "like peanut butter and jelly."

"His life wasn't perfect," said Staubs. "He had things going for him. Over the months, he has gotten more popular than ever.

"He wouldn't do it on purpose."

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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