JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 12-year-old boy was arrested Friday in connection with the death of a 12-year-old girl, who was shot in late April during a sleepover, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
Police said the boy, who was 11 at the time, shot Ramya Eunice about 1:45 a.m. on April 30, striking her in the ear and on the left side of her head, while they were attending a birthday party sleepover at a home on Willow Branch Avenue in the city's Lackawanna neighborhood.
At the time, police said the shooting was accidental. News4Jax has chosen not to identify the boy for that reason, and because he is a minor.
Police previously said the boy went into a nearby, vacant home and found the gun. But the Sheriff's Office later said the boy found the gun underneath the house.
In May, Ramya died at a hospital after she was taken off life support. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.
On Tuesday, a warrant was issued for the boy on a manslaughter charge, and he was arrested Friday at his home, police said.
Gil Smith, a retired Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputy and News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said the arrest of the boy may have been delayed due to investigators interviewing witnesses and having to wait on lab results for evidence.
News4Jax spoke with Ramya's mother, Teresa Gordon, after police announced Friday night that an arrest was made in the case.
"I’m really grateful something was done. Someone needs to be accountable for this," Gordon said. "She didn’t deserve it."
Katarwa Buckman, one of Ramya's family members, echoed those sentiments.
"We are very grateful and we appreciate everything that JSO has done to help this mom that had been grieving about her child," Buckman said. "We're going to help her get past this as a family. We're all family and we're going to stay together and pray together."
Ramya’s death wasn’t the only shooting involving a minor in Jacksonville this year.
According to records, there have been nine shootings involving a child in 2017. On Friday, 3-year-old Connor Mickens was shot in the head inside a home Broadway Street in Northwest Jacksonville.
“Forty percent of people (killed with guns) are people under age of 24,” Smith said. “Most of the time we associate gun violence with mass shootings, (but) that only constitutes about 2 percent of gun deaths.”
Smith said that while stopping all shootings may not be realistic, many can be prevented by gun owners securing their firearms.
Smith added that Jacksonville faces another startling issue: The city ranks second to Atlanta in guns stolen from cars and homes.