A 12-year-old girl shot a 14-year-old boy and then herself during a family party that was broadcast live on Instagram, police say.
Paris Harvey, 12, reportedly found a gun in her family’s home and shot her cousin, 14-year-old Kuaron Harvey before shooting herself, KSDK reported. The outlet noted that the Harvey family is calling the incident an accidental shooting.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said it had responded to a call at 2 a.m. Friday morning at an apartment complex, where they found the two young teens dead. People reported that the children were “alone in a bathroom at an apartment space that had been rented for the family birthday celebration.”
Paris’ mother, Shinise Harvey, told KSDK that she let her daughter go to the family party because there were several March birthdays.
“Everybody was getting together to celebrate, and so the younger kids, they got a bed and breakfast,” Shinise told the outlet. “They were making a video, and (Paris) was playing with the gun, but it went off and hit him.”
Police described the incident before the two young teens as a murder-suicide, but Shinise described the incident as an accident.
“(Paris) dropped the gun, and it fell, and it went off to my knowledge. And then when she picked it up, she picked it up by the barrel and it went off. That’s all I know … It was not a suicide. It was just a freak accident,” she told KSDK.
Shinise told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the incident “was no murder” and “wasn’t a suicide,” describing it instead as “a freak accident.”
Susan Dyson, Paris’ grandmother, told the Post-Dispatch: “It wasn’t a situation where they were arguing or anything like that. They were playing with the gun, when they shouldn’t have been. Of course, they shouldn’t have been doing it. I think it just went off. It went off by mistake.”
Family members reportedly told the outlet that the shooting was shown live on Instagram and that Kauron had just celebrated his 14th birthday.
Shinise also told the outlet that Kauron was her nephew and godson and that she didn’t know how her daughter found the gun or who it belonged to.
“With all that family there, they should have basically made sure she was OK,” she told KDSK. “Everybody should have stuck with somebody.”
The outlet noted that Shinise said she was not at the party. Kauron’s mother was also reportedly absent from the party.
Police are still investigating and trying to determine who owned the gun and whether any charges will be filed over the deaths.
St. Louis Director of Public Safety Dan Isom told KMOV that gun safety was important to prevent these situations.
“No matter how this turns out, I want to remind everyone that the City St. Louis Fire Department- all 30 stations have gun locks,” Isom told the outlet. “We encourage people to go to those stations to get gun locks to secure weapons so we can keep young people safe.”