Itiyanah Spruill, a New Jersey woman, was arrested Saturday after one of her children, a six-year-old boy, fatally shot his four-year-old brother in the head with his their mother’s gun, Time is reporting.
The older brother was playing with his mother’s gun around 11 a.m. at their East Orange home when the weapon accidentally went off and hit the younger boy in the head. The boy died at a Newark hospital.
Spruill, 22, was at home at the time. She was arrested on a weapons violation charge in connection with death and endangering the welfare of a child.
East Orange Mayor Lester E. Taylor III described the shooting “as a terribly unfortunate incident.” Spruill is currently being detained at the Essex County jail with bail set at $310,000. Her living child has being placed in the custody of a family member.
The 22-year old mother had previous brushes with the law. In 2014, she was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and aggravated assault. Recently, she had spent four months in jail on charges of promoting prostitution.
People in the area said Spruill did not even have custody of the boys, confirming that the boys stayed with their grandmother. They added that she had just moved in with them 10 days earlier and was planning on moving to another apartment soon. A neighbor said she was on the verge of completing her GED.
“I don’t understand why would you have a loaded gun in your house and have kids? If you do have a firearm, you need to have it in a lockbox.”
The deceased boy’s family have opened a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses of $15,000 for the four-year-old victim.
The page was created by Shirele Richardson, auntie to the boys. She hoped people would support the family, especially with the mother presently facing charges.
In a single week in the month of April, four toddlers shot and killed themselves. A mother who was driving through Milwaukee was also shot from behind when a gun slipped under the driver’s seat and was picked up by her 2-year-old child in the backseat, according to The Guardian.
Everytown For Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, revealed that 30 people were killed 2015 in accidental shootings where the shooter was 5 years-old or younger.
— Alexandra Chasse (@AlexandraChasse) June 22, 2016
The group added that preschoolers who were struggling to tie their shoelaces were getting involved in shootings at a pace of two per week. Sadly, in most of the fatal cases, the children had turned the guns on themselves.
Sha’Quille Kornegay was buried with her favorite doll in a pink coffin after she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The 2-year-old girl was sleeping in bed with her father when she found a 9-millmeter under the pillow. The girl, curious about the “toy” because it had a laser light that lit up like a cousin’s sneakers, began fiddling with the “toy” and shot herself. According to The New York Times. the bullet pierced her skull.
Jeans Bakers, the prosecutor who charged Sha’Quille’s father with second-degree murder and child endangerment, said, “You can’t call this a tragic accident, these are really preventable, and we’re not willing to prevent them.”
Advocates for strict gun control say these accidental deaths shows the laxity and lethal gaps in gun safety laws because while some states say it is mandatory to keep their guns under lock and key or tell sellers to sell trigger locks with their weapons, others prefer to leave safety decisions to buyers.
Twenty states in America abide by laws that hold adults responsible if children have unsupervised access to guns, but according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, this had done little to stop accidental shootings. Massachusetts is the only state in America that says it is mandatory for gun owners to lock up their guns.
[Image courtesy of Essex County Jail]