A 12-year-old boy in Alabama unintentionally discharged a firearm, fatally injuring his mother, according to WVTM 13 News. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said the boy tried to cover up the incident but eventually came forward with the truth that it was him who fired the shot. Experts say both parents and legislators could have prevented this tragedy.
The JCSO’s initial press release stated they arrived at a residence in Forestdale Saturday after receiving a 911 call for help. Deputies found Ayobiyi Abeni Cook, 29, deceased at the scene. There seemed to be no forced entry into the home but the boy told authorities a man was seen fleeing from the residence before the call was made. However, their investigation revealed this was a fabricated story.
According to Birmingham Real-Time News, Cook was the wife of a Birmingham police officer. He’d been working when the incident occurred.
More on the case from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office:
After investigation, Sheriff’s Detectives were able to determine that the victim’s 12 year old son unintentionally discharged a firearm striking his mother causing her death. The child originally fabricated a story that detectives determined was not possible.
The child eventually gave a true account of what happened. Evidence on the scene supports that the shooting was unintentional and the offense will be addressed through the Family Court system. The family has been cooperative throughout the process and the child will remain with them. This offense is a tragedy for the Cook family and the entire community.
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As the investigation continues and Cook’s family prepares funeral arrangements, the incident leaves a haunting concern about children not understanding the power of a firearm.
Everytown for Gun Safety counted 169 unintentional shootings committed by children this year. Last year there were 392 unintentional shootings. In turn, Nationwide’s Children’s Hospital found 75 percent of children who live in a home with a gun know where it is hidden. Kirsten Bechtel MD, staff member of the Center for Injury and Violence Prevention at Yale-New Haven Hospital and principal investigator at the Injury Free Coalition for Kids told The Root this incident was a “preventable shame.”
“If there were Child Access Prevention Laws in that state, this might not have happened. Parents should lock up and unload their firearms when they have children in the home, especially school-age children or children who are depressed or suicidal or homicidal,” said Bechtel. She said anti-gun educational programs for kids like the Eddie Eagle program by the National Rifle Association have not been shown to be beneficial toward preventing tragedies like this.
In the state of Alabama, there are no Child Access Prevention Laws nor do they have laws prohibiting reckless provision of firearms to minors or criminal liability for negligent storage of a firearm. “There’s been studies that have shown that while many parents believe their kids don’t handle their firearms, in most cases, kids know where the firearm is located and they’ve picked up or handled the firearm,” said Bechtel.
In the heated debate over gun control, we must consider situations like these in addition to mass shootings.