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After making up story, boy admits he ‘unintentionally’ shot mom, police say

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A 12-year-old Alabama boy “unintentionally” shot and killed his mother over the weekend in their home after initially making up a story about how she died, according to authorities.

The child, who has not been publicly identified, discharged a firearm early Saturday morning, killing his mother, 29-year-old Ayobiyi Cook, in Forestdale, Ala., authorities said. Cook’s husband, a police officer in nearby Birmingham, was at work at the time of the incident, Birmingham police confirmed to The Washington Post.

Detectives said evidence shows the incident appears to have been unintentional. The case will be handled in the family court system.

No further details were immediately available, including to whom the gun belonged and how the child got it. A spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond early Tuesday to a request for comment.

How often do children in the U.S. unintentionally shoot and kill people? We don’t know.

Officials with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said the boy admitted to the incident after first fabricating a story about what had happened. In an initial statement, authorities said a 911 call came in just after midnight Saturday. When police arrived, Cook was found dead, authorities said.

There “appeared to be no forced entry into the home,” but “a man was seen fleeing from the residence,” authorities said in a statement. Detectives were unable to recover evidence, according to the statement.

But the story soon changed. Detectives said in an updated statement that it was determined the boy’s account “was not possible” and that “the child eventually gave a true account of what happened.”

So far in 2022, there have been 169 unintentional shootings by children in the United States, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group that advocates for gun control. Of those, 104 people were injured and 74 people were killed, data shows. One case occurred in June, when a Florida mother was arrested and charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence after her 2-year-old son found a firearm and fatally shot his father.

At least seven such cases have occurred this year in Alabama, resulting in six injuries and three deaths, according to Everytown.

Officials with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office called Saturday’s shooting a “tragedy.”

“The family has been cooperative throughout the process and the child will remain with them,” according to the statement. “This offense is a tragedy for the Cook family and the entire community.”

On June 8, witnesses of gun violence, their family members and others testified to Congress on mass shootings, including those in Uvalde, Tex., and Buffalo. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)
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