Detroit police reported that on Thursday, a 4-year-old girl who found a rifle under a bed at her grandfather’s house shot and killed her 4-year-old cousin.
Police Sergeant Michael Woody reported that the girl, her cousin, and his 5-year-old sister were watching television and playing in a back bedroom of the home when she discovered the gun, which was loaded and not locked in any type of case. Picking up the weapon, she aimed it at her cousin and pulled the trigger. Police were called at approximately 4:50 p.m. The boy, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead on arrival at Henry Ford hospital.
At the time of the shooting, the only adult present was the grandfather of the children.
According to Woody, the weapon used was a small-caliber weapon, but exact details were not yet available. Although a 4-year-old child might not have the ability to control the rifle when firing it, that did not prove to be an issue in this case where only one shot was fired. “Would they be able to pick it up with two hands, point it and pull the trigger? Definitely,” he said.
Senseless cases such as this one in Detroit, where a 4-year-old girl can find a rifle under a bed and shoot her cousin, 4, reinforce the fact that gun owners must keep guns locked and secure, especially in cases where children are present.
The scene at the well-maintained brick home in the 7100 block of Tuxedo on Thursday showed investigators going in and out of the house by the light of a porch light. The houses along the block are an assortment of vacant and distressed homes alongside occupied family residences.
The Detroit Free Press spoke with neighbors who said they heard no gunshots on Thursday and that they did not know the occupants of the house well. One neighbor who is familiar with the family described the 4-year-old victim as “a good little boy.”
Neighbor Dorothy Jameson, 77, described herself as being “devastated” and wondered how two 4-year-old children could have access to a firearm to begin with.
Jennifer Robinson, 29, who was visiting a relative who lives on Tuxedo, looked at the scene and shook her head as she said, “It’s so sad.”
“The Wayne County prosecutor’s office is investigating and will decide whether or not to file charges in the shooting. During the course of the investigation, police have arrested a man and charged him with being a felon in possession of a weapon. A woman was also arrested on an outstanding warrant.
An autopsy is scheduled to take place on Saturday.
According to The Irish Independent, accidental shootings kill dozens of children in America each year. A Mother Jones investigation in December found that 194 children under the age of 12 had died of gunshot wounds in the past year. Added to the statistics this year is a little 4-year-old Detroit boy, shot and killed by his 4-year-old cousin with a rifle she found under her grandfather’s bed.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Detroit Free Press