A 13-year-old girl in Mississippi has died after being shot by her 9-year-old brother over a fight about video games, police say.
The shooting took place Saturday about 12:30 p.m. at a home in northeast Mississippi, Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell told The Washington Post on Monday.
Cantrell, who happened to be in the area and was the first officer to respond, said he arrived to a scene he’ll never forget.
The siblings had been in a bedroom playing a video game, while adults were elsewhere in the home, Cantrell said, citing his interviews with the family, including with the 9-year-old boy.
At some point, the boy wanted the video game controller from his sister but she wouldn’t give it to him, Cantrell said.
“The little boy — he managed to get a gun out of a nightstand there in the room there, and he just came over and shot her,” Cantrell said. “I’ve been in law enforcement 30-some-odd years, and I’ve never dealt with anything quite like this. Not with children.”
The 13-year-old was taken to a hospital in Amory, Miss., a city in Monroe County, then flown to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, about 130 miles away, the sheriff said.
The sheriff did not identify the family.
Cantrell said that the investigation is ongoing, and that officials will confer Monday about whether there was any negligence on the part of the parents.
“That’s what we’re going to be looking at today, to see if there are any charges that need to be brought against the parents,” he told The Post. “Anything’s possible. We’re going to look at every possible scenario.”
Cantrell said physical evidence at the scene corroborated “to a T” what the 9-year-old said had happened. Cantrell did not say whether the boy will be charged, or whether he understands the severity of what occurred.
“I talked to him. I just asked him what happened, and he said what he did,” Cantrell said. “At the same time, you’re talking to a little boy that’s 9 years old. … I think a lot of this goes back to these games, you know, where you hit the reset button where everybody’s okay.”
In a phone interview Monday, Cantrell repeatedly called the situation a “tragedy,” one he hoped never to encounter again.
“I’ve never dealt with children shooting each other,” Cantrell said. “That’s about the only thing I can say at this point.”
According to a 2017 report in the medical journal Pediatrics, firearms-related injuries are the third leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 17 in the United States. From 2012 to 2014, an average of 1,297 children in the United States died each year from a firearm-related injury, the study showed.
Analyzing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, The Post’s editorial board found that “on average, 23 children were shot each day in the United States in 2015. Of the approximately 8,400 shootings, 1,458 were fatal, a death toll that exceeds the entire number of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan this decade.”