A responsible, gun owning Kentucky mom stepped outside, leaving her 5-year-old son alone with his new birthday present — a brand new, shiny loaded .22-cal. rifle — and his 2-year-old sister.
Unfortunately, mom was outside just long enough for her son to fatally shoot his sister, Caroline Sparks, with his new present.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Gregory says that the shooting has been ruled an accident. “It’s just one of those nightmares,” he said, “a quick thing that happens when you turn your back.”
He added that in the area it is not uncommon for parents to give their young children weapons. “In this part of the country, it’s not uncommon for a 5-year-old to have a gun or for a parent to pass one down to their kid,” he said.
The rifle that killed Caroline Sparks is a Crickett single-shot, and has a child safety, according to Cumberland County Coroner Gary White. The company’s web site features three .22-caliber rifle models for children and the slogan, “My first rifle.”
The family, while upset, is happy that little Caroline is in a “better place.”
“It was God’s will. It was her time to go, I guess,” grandmother Linda Riddle told WLEX. “I just know she’s in heaven right now and I know she’s in good hands with the Lord.”
“It’s just tragic,” uncle David Mann said. “It’s something that you can’t prepare for.”
The family kept the gun in what it considered to be a “safe place” and seems to have believed that a child safety was enough to keep the five-year-old boy from using the gun unsupervised. Unfortunately, simply keeping one’s guns in a “safe place” and relying on the gun to prevent itself from being used is not the best strategy.
No charges will be filed.