An 11-year-old North St. Louis boy shot and killed a 16-year-old yesterday afternoon in a very troubling shooting:

A child shot a teen that was trying to break into a home in north St. Louis County. Police say the 11-year-old shooter fired one round from a handgun and killed the 16-year-old suspect. The shooting happened in the 10200 block of Hallwood drive.

Two suspects tried to break into the home twice before on Thursday. One of the suspects got into the unlocked front door of the home at around 2:30pm while the 11-year-old and a 4-year-old girl were home alone. That is when the 11-year-old shot and killed the suspect.  Police found the body with a gunshot to the head in the front foyer of the home.

Investigators say the second suspect ran off when shots were fired.  St. Louis County police have taken the suspect into custody.  They have not yet released the suspect’s name.

Authorities are talking to the mother to determine why the children were home alone. They also want to know why the 11-year-old had access to a handgun. Police believe the mother purchased the handgun because of prior attempted home break-in attempts.  She is cooperating with the investigation.

There is a radically conflicting eyewitness account.

A neighbor says that the 11-year-old was arguing with the older boy on the porch when pulled out the gun, and shot the older boy in the head.

Some neighbors are providing a different version of events. One woman, who said she saw the shooting, told News 4 the 11-year-old and 16-year-old were arguing on the home’s front porch when shots were fired.

“The little boy’s (person shot) jumped up and went towards there and laid down and he lands in the doorway. He was always sitting on the porch, he never went inside the house,” said a neighbor.

A pre-schooler was left in the care of another child with no responsible adults in the home.

The home was unsecured, and the children were left with a loaded and unsecured handgun that was possibly used in self-defense, but may very well have been used for a criminal homicide.

I lack the words to express my disgust at the entire situation.

We could just as easily be reading about two abandoned children dying in a house fire.

We could be reading about two children that were assaulted, abducted, or abused.

Most likely, we’d be reading about a child that died as the result of a negligent discharge.

Instead, we might may have a murder, committed by a child, over a petty argument.

I suspect that we won’t have to worry about these children being left home alone anymore, as they’re almost certainly destined to be wards of the state, and the 11-year-old may end up in the juvenile justice system.

All because the child’s mother left children home alone with a loaded and unsecured handgun.

I’m personally against “safe storage” laws. Responsible parents don’t need them, and irresponsible parents won’t abide by them anyway.

But stories like this are why they get proposed, and often passed.


Update: It’s looking more and more like the 11-year-old was a known troublemaker who murdered the 16-year-old.

But that narrative doesn’t square with Donna Jackson, who lives across the street.

She said she saw the 11-year-old shoot the 16-year-old point-blank in the head as the two were talking on a half brick wall near the home’s front door. “It was not a break-in,” said Jackson, 45. “He shot him in the head.”

She said it was traumatic to see something like that. “There wasn’t a reason why it happened like it happened,” she said. “It was really sad.”

Another neighbor two doors down from the shooting offers a similar account.

Jazmyne Clark, 18, said the 11-year-old was on the front porch when he called to the 16-year-old to approach him. She said the teen might have been seeking to sell the younger child a cellphone. When the 16-year-old reached the front door, Clark said, the 11-year-old shot him, with the teen falling forward into the open front door.

“He was never in the house,” Clark said. “He wasn’t breaking in at all. He was just trying to sell him his phone.”

Clark said the 11-year-old had been in front of the house earlier in the day waving a gun around. She said that the boy had caused problems in the neighborhood before and that this kind of thing was bound to happen eventually.

Another neighbor, Anna Carvin, 25, said the 11-year-old had previously broke into her own home and stole cellphones.