An 11-year-old youth athlete shot and injured two 13-year-olds after an alleged fight on a football field. The boy, who is from Florida, has since been charged with attempted murder. Police say additional charges will also be filed against his parents who left the firearm within reach of the minor.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Police Chief Mike McKinley said it’s unacceptable that “11-year-olds have access to guns” and that “they believe they can use it to resolve a dispute.” He added that “we need to reflect on [the situation] as a society” and that “there is a big, overarching misunderstanding among minors, who view guns and weapons as “a fix to their problem.”
In Florida, the age of criminal responsibility – the age at which an individual can be held responsible for a crime – is 16 years old, and there are no exceptions for those under the age of 14. As such, the minor involved will not be tried as an adult.
According to McKinley, a physical fight broke out between three boys in a parking lot in Apopka, Florida., after a football practice. The altercation eventually escalated, which prompted the 11-year-old – whose name has not been revealed due to him being a minor – to go into his mother’s vehicle to retrieve a firearm.
A woman who witnessed the incident frantically called 911 seconds after the gun was fired.
In the 911 audio, which has since been released, a woman claiming to be the mother of one of the boys who was shot can be heard asking repeatedly for medical help.
Surveillance footage in the parking lot showed the 11-year-old firing a single shot from the gun, which hit both the young teens before they could escape. One of them was shot in the arm, hospitalized, and has since returned home. The other was hit in the chest area and required surgery but is now in stable condition.
McKinley said the gun involved in the attack was registered, but was stored without a lock. In the state of Florida, having unsecured firearms without the reach of children is a second-degree misdemeanor. McKinley reminded parents that it’s their responsibility to ensure the weapons are secure and not within reach of youths as “it only takes a single bad decision to ruin lives.”
The alleged child shooter was later described as “very shy” and “very quiet”. According to McKinley, he seemed “somber over the shooting” and didn’t say much when he was at the scene.
While what the 11-year-old child did was unacceptable, McKinley hopes he will receive counseling through the court system – he would like to make sure that he gets the help he needs to “become a productive member of society.”
Due to his young age, McKinley is hopeful that he will be able to turn things around as “he has many years ahead of him”.