Woman arrested after 12-year-old killed by brother who found gun, police say

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 9:02 AM MDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2022 at 10:52 PM MDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV/Gray News) – A woman was taken into custody after police say a 10-year-old child shot and killed his 12-year-old brother while playing with a gun they found inside a home in St. Louis.

The shooting happened just before 8 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the 5600 block of Summit Place, which is in the Walnut Park West neighborhood. Authorities tell KMOV that 12-year-old LaFrance Johnson and his brother were with a parent, who was getting a haircut at the home, when LaFrance was shot in the face.

A 36-year-old woman was arrested for endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death after she told police she owned the gun. Warrants are being applied at the Circuit Attorney’s Office.

LaFrance was a sixth-grader at Selvidge Middle School in the Rockwood School District, administrators confirmed. In a statement, the district said they were saddened to learn about his death.

“Our sincere thoughts and sympathies are with his family as well as the educators and friends who knew and loved LaFrance. We have assembled our crisis team at Selvidge Middle and will have counselors on hand this week for students and staff who will need assistance,” the district wrote.

This tragedy follows a series of shootings in St. Louis involving children handling guns. Major Ryan Cousins with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said these incidents are happening far too frequently.

The shooting comes days after a 12-year-old and 14-year-old were shot and killed in downtown St. Louis. Police are investigating that incident as a murder-suicide, though family members believe it was accidental.

In February, a 12-year-old girl was wounded in an accidental self-inflicted shooting.

“This is like the third incident in a week we’ve had so far. Prior to that, we have sent out information to the alderpersons about receiving gun locks,” Cousins said. “As an agency, we will come out and teach everyone how to use them. We do understand people are going to own guns; however, to protect these children, we want to ensure these guns are secured safely.”

Alderwoman Pamela Boyd, in whose ward the shooting on Summit Place happened, said irresponsible gun ownership and senseless killings must stop.

Last month, St. Louis Police launched the Lock it for Love gun lock initiative to provide free gun locks to the community with the goal to reduce gun violence, accidental shootings and suicides by firearm.

Through this initiative, responding officers will receive gun locks to provide to families impacted by gun violence, particularly when children are involved, or anyone identified with a firearm and children in the home.

Approximately 4,500 gun locks will be distributed by St. Louis City police, and officers will also come out and teach people how to use gun locks. Thirty engine houses in St. Louis City will also distribute free gun locks.

“As a mom, I know how important it is that we take every step we can to keep our babies safe,” said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “These recent shootings have devastated our entire city, and we need to take immediate action to protect our children. If you have a gun in the house, be a responsible gun owner; store firearms locked and unloaded and pick up a free gun lock to help you and your loved ones safe.”

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