Two adults are charged with culpable negligence after police say a 13-year-old was accidentally shot and killed by an 11-year-old friend who found a loaded gun in a home where five children were alone.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Trashonda Richardson, 28, and Eric Pearlman, 39, were arrested and charged Saturday night, hours after Titania Mitchell was shot and killed inside her godmother's Northside home.
Police say the 13-year-old was the oldest of five children at the home was in the home with a group of younger children in Trashonda Richardson's home on Riverstone Way about 4 p.m. No adults were in the home at the time at the time of the shooting, according to detectives investigating the homicide.
Police say the 11-year-old who found the gun was a friend of the victim and told investigators he was "just playing around" when it went off.
"He admitted to playing with the 22-caliber handgun, took it in the bedroom where she was and fired one round and struck her in the forehead," said Lt. Rob Schoonover. "She died instantly."
Police said the gun belonged to Pearlman, who told investigators it was hidden in a closet. Officer say Pearlman also had a shotgun in the bedroom.
Police said Richardson and Pearlman were charged with felony negligence for having an improperly stored firearm. Both posted $50,000 bond and were released from jail.
Grief counselors were at the LaVilla School of the Arts on Monday to help friends and other students mourn Mitchell, who was a dance student there. The FCAT scheduled to begin Monday was postponed a day to help students grieving the loss their classmate over the weekend.
Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said he wants to give the school at least a day to deal with the loss.
“In an effort to comfort the students and faculty members directly affected by such an enormous tragedy, we have assigned grief counselors and related services to support them. In addition, I requested to delay the start of FCAT testing until Tuesday and the request was approved by the FDOE," said Vitti.
Lt. Rob Schoonover with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said this tragedy is a reminder of the importance of securing your weapon.
“All too often we hear about kids playing with guns and something like this tragically happening. Adults need to know that these guns need to be secured, unloaded, and put somewhere where they can’t have access to kids, and in this case it appears that did not happen," said Schoonover.
John Harrell of the Department of Children and Families agrees. He said children should never handle guns without supervision.
"Children should know that if they see a gun around to tell an adult immediately and to never leave a gun unattended in reach of a child," said Harrell.