Ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ings claim teens, young chil­dren

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Deepti Ha­jela

NEW YORK >> One was a cu­ri­ous teenager who was look­ing down the bar­rel of a gun when it ac­ci­den­tally dis­charged. An­other was a 4-year-old, killed by his 5-year-old brother play­ing with their mother’s gun. Two more, ages 15 and 16, died when kids who never should have had guns han­dled them reck­lessly dur­ing stupid horse­play.

These chil­dren in New York and north­ern New Jer­sey are some of the more than 320 U.S. chil­dren who died in ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ings dur­ing a 2 ½ year period ex­am­ined by The As­so­ci­ated Press and the USA TODAY Net­work.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion of more than 1,000 ac­ci­den­tal shoot­ings of chil­dren un­der age 18 be­tween Jan. 1, 2014 to June 30 of this year found that kids were most likely to be shot ac­ci­den­tally in states with a vi­brant gun cul­ture, es­pe­cially the Deep South.

But chil­dren died in the North­east, too, in­clud­ing in states with some of the tough­est rules on gun own­er­ship.

Most died in their own homes, of­ten while play­ing with friends. Vic­tims were most likely to be either very young chil­dren, not al­ways able to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween a real gun and a toy, or teenagers.

The Teens:

Wilta Wordsworth, 15, was skip­ping school in New York City when she was shot on Sept. 11, 2015.

She had in­vited two teenage boys over to hang out with her and an­other girl at her Queens apart­ment.

Wordsworth was play fight­ing with one of the boys when he pulled out a gun, ac­cord­ing to an­other girl present. It went off and a bul­let hit Wordsworth in the head.

The girl ran for help while the boys fled. Wordsworth died at the hospi­tal the day af­ter be­ing shot. The two teen boys were charged with man­slaugh­ter and sen­tenced to place­ment in ju­ve­nile res­i­den­tial fa­cil­i­ties.

Zion Wil­lis, 16, was vis­it­ing a friend at a Bronx apart­ment on Nov. 12, 2015, when a 42-year-old man who also lived there showed her and her friend a pis­tol.

The friend told po­lice that the gun was left in the room and Wil­lis picked it up to ex­am­ine it. She was look­ing down the bar­rel when it went off.

She was hit in the face and died at the scene. The man who owned the gun fled but later turned him­self in, and is fac­ing a charge of in­vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter. The case is pend­ing.

A cel­e­bra­tion over a video game turned tragic for 16-year-old Den­zel Nash on Feb. 11, 2016.

He was in a Brook­lyn apart­ment when a 15-yearold com­pan­ion pulled out a gun af­ter scor­ing some points and waved it around.

It went off. Nash, de­scribed by fam­ily and friends as a skilled soc­cer player who was al­ways smil­ing, was hit in the face. He died at a hospi­tal.

The 15-year-old and an­other teen in the apart­ment at the time left, but were taken into cus­tody. The 15-year-old was charged with man­slaugh­ter and sen­tenced to a ju­ve­nile res­i­den­tial fa­cil­ity, which can be ex­tended an­nu­ally un­til he turns 18 years old.

Ac­k­eem Davis was just days away from his 17th birth­day when he was shot by a friend in­side his Bronx home on May 19, 2016.

Au­thor­i­ties said the 19-year-old shooter told them he, Davis and other friends had been play­ing around with the gun, a .380-cal­iber re­volver. They thought the gun was un­loaded when he pointed it at Davis and pulled the trig­ger.

The teen faces man­slaugh­ter and weapons possession charges. The case is pend­ing.

Ja­cob Stahl, 15, was a hunt­ing and shoot­ing en­thu­si­ast in his home­town of Shelby, New York, about 45 miles west of Rochester.

The high school sopho­more and a teen friend were in an up­stairs bed­room at his home on Oct. 17, 2014, when Stahl was shot.

The Or­leans County Sher­iff’s Of­fice at­trib­uted it to the care­less han­dling of a loaded shot­gun, but didn’t dis­close who was hold­ing the weapon at the time, or the cir­cum­stances that led to its fir­ing.

The Youngest Vic­tims:

In some cases, a child’s cu­rios­ity led to tragedy, for them­selves or an­other child, when they some­how came across firearms. In oth­ers, an adult’s mis­han­dling of a gun turned a child into a vic­tim.

Makayla Man­ners was 4 years old when au­thor­i­ties said she found a semi-au­to­matic hand­gun in her fam­ily’s sec­ond-floor apart­ment in Yonkers, New York, late at night on May 25, 2015.

She some­how shot her­self in the face. The girl, de­scribed by fam­ily friends as bright and en­er­getic, died four days later at a Bronx hospi­tal. The Westch­ester County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was still pend­ing. No ar­rests or charges have been brought.

Four-year-old Christopher Las­siter died at the hands of his 5-year-old brother on June 25, 2016, at their home in East Or­ange, New Jer­sey.

Au­thor­i­ties said the weapon be­longed to their mother, but didn’t spec­ify how the older child got hold of it.

The mother, Itiyanah Spruill, was in cus­tody at the time of her son’s fu­neral but was al­lowed to at­tend a pri­vate view­ing the day be­fore. She pleaded guilty to en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child and was sen­tenced to a year in jail.

In Rome, New York, about 45 miles east of Syra­cuse, Nathaniel Hitt was a 7-month-old in­fant when he was killed by a gun­shot wound to the head on Nov. 28, 2015.

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