Neighbors react to shooting death of 10-year-old

Ware County deputies believe the shooting was accidental

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents of a Ware County neighborhood are still in shock over the shooting death of Taylor Jowers, who was killed Saturday after police say the 10-year-old asked an older boy to hold a 12-gauge shotgun that was in the house.

The girl's father, Joshua Jowers, 33, a convicted felon, was arrested Sunday evening for possession of a firearm. Deputies said when they searched the house, they found several more guns.

The Ware County Sheriff's Office said Jowers posted bail.  At this point, they believe it was just a horrible accident.

Joshua Scott Jowers
Joshua Scott Jowers

Investigators say as the family member attempted to make sure the gun wasn't loaded, it went off, striking the girl.

"I was in shock that, we didn't hear a thing and we were just two houses over," said Mary Peterson, a neighbor.

After the girl was shot, the relative ran over to the neighbor's house, knocked on the door and asked for help. Deputies arrived at the house and provided first aid, but as they waited for Life Flight to get to the scene, the girl died.

Peterson said she saw the relative running over to the neighbor's house but didn't really know what had happened. She said she wasn't sure if either parent was home when the gun went off.

"I knew that it was horrible when everything came up and the mom came flying in, I was just praying," said Peterson.

Peterson said a green car pulled up to the house with who she believes was the little girl's mother Sunday night. She said she didn't know the family too well and has only lived in the neighborhood for about a month. Her daughter played with Taylor Jowers a few times.  Peterson said Taylor was a sweet girl and believes her parents were responsible people.

"I was in shock. The parents are real protective, the kids don't come outside when they're not home," said Peterson. "They're the nicest people. We've never had (any) problems. I was shocked to hear that the father had gotten arrested."

The Ware County Sheriff's Office expects the preliminary autopsy report to be completed by Monday afternoon.

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