A New Jersey mother was arrested Saturday after her six-year-old accidentally and fatally shot his four-year-old brother in the head, officials said, marking the latest grim instances of children as both the shooter and victim.
The older child was playing with his mother’s gun at an East Orange home about 11 a.m. when it accidentally went off, city spokeswoman Connie Jackson told NJ Advance Media. The four-year-old later died at a Newark hospital.
Itiyanah Spruill, the 22-year-old mother of both children, was at home during the time of the shooting, Jackson said. It’s unclear how the boy got a hold of the gun. Spruill was arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and a weapons violation in connection with the death, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray and East Orange Public Safety Director Sheilah Coley.
East Orange Mayor Lester E. Taylor III said the shooting was a “terribly unfortunate incident.” In a statement, he added, “Our thoughts are with him and his family.”
The tragedy stunned neighbors, including one who reflected on recent incidents involving children accidentally getting their hands on guns. “This is crazy,” neighbor Vania Limage told CBS New York. “That’s been going on in the news over and over where you hear about those incidents going on. So people should not have a gun around a four-year-old and a six-year-old.”