A night of friends drinking ended with a tragedy. Tyler Pierce was sentenced to 80 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. In June 2019, Pierce and his childhood friend and coworker, Justin Stewart, were out drinking at several bars in East Portland. Pierce, who didn’t have a concealed weapon permit, carried a pistol throughout the night. In Oregon you must have a license to carry.
Pierce said he kept bullets loaded in the magazine, but not in the chamber. The two eventually headed home, and Pierce pulled out his gun, held it to his friend’s chin and pulled the trigger. Stewart fell to the ground, and Pierce called 911.
Stewart’s girlfriend told the media in June 2019 that she was sure it was an accident. “Pierce was playing with his gun and pointing it at Justin, just like jokingly, and then he pulled the trigger not thinking there was any ammo in it,” Angela Davidson said. “And he got Justin right in the neck.” A manslaughter charge is based on doing something you knew was dangerous that causes death.
Pierce had a 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun on him that he had purchased from a Bi-Mart about one month prior.
The prosecuting attorney, Deputy District Attorney Kate Molina, said the “preventable tragedy” should serve as a reminder to not mix weapons with alcohol. “Guns are not toys. The sheer presence of a gun increases the risk of fatality,” Molina said. “That combined with lack of training, proper permits, and the consumption of alcohol is deadly.”
“My son didn’t deserve this… I am haunted by his death,” Stewart’s father said in a statement. “Sorry isn’t good enough,” Stewart’s mother added. “He will never have a chance to get married… you are receiving 80 months but me and Stewart’s father are getting a life sentence without our son.” Tyler Wayne Pierce said he’ll feel “guilt and shame” for the rest of his life for killing his longtime friend, Justin Stewart.