Man accused of shooting, killing his friend pleads not guilty
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — A Milwaukee man accused of killing his friend has pleaded not guilty in the case.
38-year old Benjamin Masch of Milwaukee has been charged with reckless homicide — accused of shooting and killing John Chelig during the early morning hours of Tuesday, February 18th.
The incident happened at a home on S. 53rd St. near Howard Ave.
According to the criminal complaint, Masch and Chelig were playing video games and drinking beer in the basement of the home after a night out drinking.
The complaint states the two men were playing with Masch’s .45 caliber handgun throughout the night. At one point, Masch allegedly loaded and then unloaded the gun.
According to the criminal complaint, Masch went upstairs to use the restroom and found Chelig holding the handgun upon his return. Masch alleges Chelig was pointing the gun at him, the television, and waving it around.
Masch told police he was not concerned about being injured because he had unloaded the gun earlier in the night, but became irritated that Chelig wouldn’t put the weapon down.
Masch attempted to grab the gun from Chelig, at which point, according to the complaint, the two jokingly scuffled over the gun.
The complaint states when Masch was able to get the gun in his possession, he reached across his own body, put the gun to Chelig’s head and intentionally pulled the trigger.
According to the criminal complaint, Masch was surprised to hear the gun fire, believing the weapon to be unloaded. At first, Masch didn’t think the gunshot struck Chelig, but when the victim began bleeding, Masch placed the gun in Chelig’s hand and ran upstairs to call 911.
Masch allegedly told the 911 operator “Oh my god, John shot himself.”
Masch told police he initially lied because he was scared and didn’t know what else to do. Masch also told the 911 dispatcher Chelig was his best friend.
Masch later admitted to police that he was the one who shot Chelig.
If convicted, Masch faces up to 65 years in prison.