Four-year-old Jamel Witcher Jr. was shot in the chest and killed Thursday in Detroit. He was shot in the chest and killed by his four-year-old cousin, who picked up a loaded rifle left leaning against a wall in a home shared by his “habitual offender” grandparents and step-grandfather.
Stunningly, the dead boy’s parents don’t think charges should be filed, even though the three adults each have long criminal records and aren’t legally allowed to have guns in the first place:
Jamel Jr.’s parents said the gun should have been stored properly, but they don’t believe anyone should have been charged.
“I feel like it was an accident,” Adrian Tubbs, Jamel Jr.’s mother, said.
Jamel Witcher said he spoke briefly by phone with Johnson, who he said is grieving over her grandson’s death.
“She’s real hurt,” he said.
Johnson and Richardson, who appeared via video Sunday in 34th District Court, were both arraigned on charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree child abuse, felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm. Richardson was also charged with careless discharge of a firearm causing injury or death.
Magistrate Meletios Golamatis ordered each held on $200,000 bonds. Johnson and Richardson are scheduled to be back in court Jan. 31.
Both are habitual offenders, which Golamatis said enhanced penalties of their charges.
Witcher is also facing involuntary manslaughter, felon in possession of a firearm and felony firearm charges.
Harvey Wichter is on the run, unwilling to take any responsibility for his role in his grandson’s death.
This death wasn’t an accident. This was intentional criminal behavior (felons in possession of weapons) combined with criminal negligence regarding the safe storage of firearms, and all three adults should be put back in prison for the rest of their days.
There are almost no “gun accidents,” but there are many people killed by gun negligence every year. There was simply no excuse for this… and there never is.
All new firearms sold in the United States come with a free cable lock. They probably won’t stop the theft of a weapon, but they are sufficient to keep the action of every firearm made from chambering a round if properly installed, and will prevent children (and negligent adults) from shooting one another.
Simple gun cabinets suitable for storing multiple long guns can be found nationwide for just over $100, and electronic pistol safe’s that allow fast access to handguns can be had for just $40… about the cost of two boxes of quality ammunition. Neither will stop a determined thief, but both significantly reduce the risk of children and irresponsible adults from acquiring firearms they should not possess.
If you own firearms you have a responsibility to secure them. Simply putting them in a drawer, or on a shelf, or leaning them against a wall isn’t securing them, and “putting guns where kids can’t/won’t find them” or thinking that children will never touch them just because you told them so is an exercise in self-delusion.
Secure your guns.
The lives you save will be those you hold most dear.