Atlanta police have pieced together how 6-year-old Ja’Mecca Smith died Saturday morning.
Authorities said on Sunday that she discovered a loaded gun between the cushions of a sofa at her home and somehow shot herself in the head, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The police also said they arrested her father, Demarqo Smith, who faces involuntary manslaughter and reckless-conduct charges. Smith, 25, had briefly fled the scene when detectives arrived to investigate the shooting. But he returned to answer questions.
Two adults and at least four other children were reportedly in the apartment when Ja’Mecca shot herself.
Vigils were held Sunday night in memory of the little girl.
“Right now my life’s in shambles. It hurts. It’s not a good feeling. I lost my baby girl, and life’s hard for me right now,” Ja’Mecca’s mother, Kate Milling, told WXIA-TV.
Milling was reportedly at work when the shooting happened.
According to the Journal-Constitution, authorities have blamed accidental shootings for the deaths of at least four Georgia children over a nearly six-week period.
Last year USA Today reported on a study that says child deaths from accidental shootings occur more frequently that official statistics indicate. According to the study, conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety, at least 100 children died nationwide between December 2012 and December 2013 from unintentional shootings, which averages to about two each week.
That rate is 61 percent higher than the average number of deaths the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported from 2007 through 2011.
The group’s president said that medical examiners sometimes categorize the shootings as suicides or homicides before criminal investigations are completed. But a child playing with a gun is often the cause, he added.