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Gun charge in shooting death of aspiring meteorologist

HOLLY HILL, Fla. -- A friend of an aspiring meteorologist shot to death in September under mysterious circumstances is now facing a misdemeanor gun charge, police say.

22-year-old Timothy Englehardt was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the head Sept. 13 at a home in Holly Hill, Fla., and later died. Authorities received a phone call at around 6:15 that night reporting "an attempted suicide and a gun shot fired."

Timothy Englehardt 911 call: "Our friend shot himself"

Four people were in the home at the time of the shooting, besides Englehardt, police said. One of them told police that Englehardt had been "upset" and was making "suicidal statements" before putting a gun to his head and pulling the trigger.

In a recording of the 911 call, a female is heard telling the emergency operator how her friend shot himself. A frantic male is heard in the background screaming at times.

The caller, later identified as Stephanie Lauber, said she thought the gun wasn't loaded at the time.

"My friend is upset because he feels responsible for it," Lauber told the operator.

"It is his gun," she said.

The male is then heard in the background saying something inaudible.

"No you didn't, you didn't kill him," Lauber responded.

The family of Englehardt, who was a senior at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, told 48 Hours' Crimesider last month their son would never commit suicide. Father Bill Englehardt said his son had spoken with his grandmother 40 minutes before the shooting and asked her to buy him a plane ticket so he could come home to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving.

The police incident report says Englehardt was found dead on the front porch of the home with a firearm nowhere within his reach.

Monday, the Holly Hill police department issued a statement outlining a version of events based on their investigation. They said that 26-year-old Jacob Eldred will be charged with improper exhibition of a firearm, a first degree misdemeanor.

According to police, Timothy Englehardt went to the home that day to care for Eldred's pet while Eldred was away on a day trip. Eldred returned along with three friends, and the group began drinking.

The police account says Englehardt went outside to take a phone call, and appeared agitated when he came back to the home's porch area. Two of the friends had gone into another room, so only Eldred and another friend, Stefanie Lauber, were on the porch with Englehardt.

Police say Englehardt began making suicide statements. Eldred allegedly told police he removed the magazine from his .45 caliber firearm that he normally carried and confronted Englehardt about his suicidal statements.

Police alleged Eldred had his handgun out, pointing it at himself, telling Englehardt about his own past thoughts about harming himself and saying it wasn't the right thing to do. That's when, according to police, Englehardt grabbed the barrel of the gun and pulled it towards his head, and the weapon fired.

Still holding the gun, police say Eldred placed it on a nearby coffee table and left the room with Lauber, who called 911.

According to police, a criminal complaint affidavit will be released once it's filed with the State's Attorney's office.

Bill Englehardt told Crimesider last month he believes his son was shot by another individual by accident, but he says his wife has a different opinion and believes her son was purposely murdered. He says he has faith that authorities will be able to determine what really happened and ensure justice is served.