Family calls for teen’s release after accidental shooting of 12-year-old brother
A St. Paul family is pleading for the release of a 14-year-old after a gun went off at a birthday party, killing a 12-year-old boy on Saturday.
The family confirms to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the teen arrested was the victim’s brother.
“One thing about us, we are a family and we’re going to come together,” Chyarm Hill, the victim’s cousin, said at a Sunday vigil.
The Jones-Hill family is now broken after 12-year-old Markee Jones was shot and killed when the family says a gun went off at a birthday party.
“Markee was a good child and really respectful to adults,” Marilyn Hill, a family member, said.
Family members explained that two brothers were playing with a gun Saturday when it accidentally fired.
St. Paul police were called to the grandmother’s house at around 5 a.m.
A 14-year-old was taken into custody at the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center on suspicion of manslaughter.
“He’s innocent. You can’t accuse and charge a child for a mistake,” Marilyn said. “This is an accident.”
Rachel Moran, a University of St. Thomas legal expert, explained that the prosecutor’s office has to decide if they have evidence to suggest the child committed a crime.
She explained the charge could be manslaughter or another crime like reckless use of a firearm.
“For example, is there evidence the child knew the gun was loaded? What was he actually doing with the gun when it went off?” Moran said. “It sounds like a very tricky situation altogether. It’s not the kid’s gun. The family is saying that they were playing with it. They may not have had any idea whether the gun was loaded.”
Moran explained the gun owner could be at fault because there are several Minnesota criminal statutes that could apply in this situation – including negligent storage of a firearm.
“It’s a crime to leave a gun, particularly a loaded gun, in a place where you know kids will have access to it,” Moran said. “If the person who owned the gun actually gave it to a kid or kids on purpose, that could be a felony.”
Moran added it’s unlikely the homeowner would be at fault unless she knew the gun was in the home and that it was accessible to children.
The family is urging the owner of the gun to step up and take responsibility.
“We need this man to be held accountable because that child that’s sitting in jail is innocent,” Marilyn said.
As of Monday, St. Paul Police said there are no updates on the case.