An 11-year-old child was shot dead Saturday by her two-year-old brother as their mother used the bathroom down the hall, after the mom's boyfriend left a loaded.357 caliber handgun in the house, on top of a refrigerator.
The apparently accidental killing of the child happened just before 10 am in West Philadelphia, when the oldest of the mother's four children, a 14-year-old boy, found the powerful handgun and brought it into the bedroom.
Somehow, the gun with an oversize eight-inch barrel was placed in the hands of the youngest child, a toddler. Investigators found gunpowder burns on the little boy's arms, leading them to conclude that it was the two-year-old boy who pulled the trigger on his older sister.
The bullet struck 11-year-old Jamara Stevens in the shoulder, tearing down into her chest where it inflicted such severe injuries that though police rushed her to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the child was declared dead just over 20 minutes after she was accidentally shot.
The mother of the child who was shot, Tiffany Goldwire, was distraught as police found her holding the child in her arms when they arrived, after receiving Goldwire's 911 call.
"Obviously it has been an emotional scene both here and at the hospital, so we have been struggling trying to keep the emotion down and working with the family for this very tragic situation," said Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker.
"I feel for the family because you have guns in your house and your intention was to protection your home for whatever reason, but your kids get a hold of it, and then something like this happens," neighbor James Rouse told a Philadelphia TV station. "How does that parent feel?"
But police said they had been called before to the home where the child was shot, on the 3800 block of Wallace Street in the Mantua neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Police say they questioned Goldwire for about five hours about how the child ended up being shot. But no charges have been filed.