Skip to comments.Kentucky girl, 2, fatally shot in chest by 5-year-old brother: police
Posted on 05/02/2013 8:33:46 PM PDT by Colonel Kangaroo
Caroline Sparks was playing with her brother, Kristian, when he accidentally fired his Crickett rifle at his sister in their Cumberland County home, police said. Charges have not been ruled out in the case.
A single bullet to the chest killed the 2-year-old Kentucky girl shot by her 5-year-old brother clutching a My First Rifle a tragic accident that could lead to charges.
Kristian Sparks shot his sister, Caroline, with a .22-caliber rifle around 1 p.m. Tuesday inside the familys mobile home in rural Burkesville, Cumberland County. Their mother, Stephanie Sparks, was outside on the porch pouring grease out of a frying pan when she heard the gun go off, Kentucky State Police said.
A trooper didnt initially anticipate charges being filed in the case, but said Wednesday that could change, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
I think there is still some information that we dont fully understand, said Trooper Billy Gregory, adding that a grand jury could have the final say.
An autopsy on the tiny toddler was scheduled for Wednesday, with a memorial visitation set for Friday and a funeral service to be held Saturday.
Cumberland County resident Jeff Booher, 53, said learning how to use a gun is a rite of passage for many children who live in this area of southern Kentucky near the Tennessee border.
He taught his three children ages 9, 12 and 22 how to handle a gun when they were 4 or 5.
People learn how to shoot before they learn how to read, he told the Daily News.
Booher, who runs a tire shop, said he knows the Sparks family and described Caroline as a little angel.
Since guns are such a major part of life in the area, its rare that someone would be accidentally killed by a firearm.
I think people will be a lot more careful after what happened, Booher said.
Officials identified the single-shot rifle as a Cricket, which is produced by Keystone Sporting Arms in Pennsylvania. It sells the weapons in a variety of colors, from hot pink to brown to a swirl of red, white and blue.
Its website has a long list of testimonials from parents who talk about how grateful they are to be able to go shooting with their children. All of the guns have safety locks, and some even have ones that require a key.
The companys phone went unanswered Thursday.
Officials said Kristians rifle given as a birthday present last year is normally kept in a corner of the Sparks' home. Although the safety lock was on, the family says they didnt realize a shell was still inside the firearm.
In Cumberland County, as elsewhere in Kentucky, local newspapers feature photos of children proudly displaying their kills, including turkey and deer. Even one of the latest reality shows on CMT, Guntucky, features a family-owned gun range in Kentucky.
Ruby Wright, who teaches hunter safety classes in Cumberland County, said children younger than 9 can sit in, but they cant get certification. She also coaches 4-H shooting sports, requiring those children to be 9 as well.
Cumberland County Judge Executive John Phelps said he knew the family well. He said the father, Chris Sparks, works as a logger at a mill and also shoes horses.
The family lives in a gray mobile home on a long, winding road, surrounded by rolling hills and farmland thats been in the family since the 1930s. Toys, including a small truck and a basketball goal, were on the front porch, but no one was home Wednesday.
Theres a house across the street, but the next-closest neighbor lives over a hill.
Family friend Logan Wells said he received a frantic call telling him that the little girl was in an accident and to come quickly.
the chest with his rifle, police said. When he got to the hospital, Caroline was already dead. She passed just when I got there, Wells said.
Sharon Rengers, a longtime child advocate at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, said making and marketing weapons specifically for children was mind-boggling.
Its like, oh, my God, she said, were having a big national debate whether we want to check somebodys background, but were going to offer a 4-year-old a gun and expect something good from that?
State Rep. Robert R. Damron, a Democrat and an outspoken gun rights advocate in Kentucky, said the problem is not guns, but the parents who do not teach gun safety and responsibility.
Why single out firearms? Why not talk about all the other things that endanger children, too? he said. The Second Amendment doesnt give anybody carte blanche freedom to put children and juveniles at risk.
I should have attributed this story to the New York Daily News, not the Post.
A five year old given a .22 rifle as a present? Most kids didn’t even have a BB gun until eight or nine and .22 around twelve. What were the parents thinking?
“Although the safety lock was on, the family says they didnt realize a shell was still inside the firearm.”
IT WAS THEIR JOB TO CHECK AND MAKE SURE there were no bullets in it. Is that so difficult????????? Good grief, stuff like this pisses me of. RIP little girl. You’re away from people and I hope in a better place.
I plan to give my boys .22s ...when they’re 15.
They weren't, of course.
When my daughter was a kid we had a neighbor with a girl her age and a son a couple of years younger. These numbnuts left lighters laying around with their smokes where the boy could reach them. Yeah, he got caught playing with them...as well as the pocket knife his half wit father left laying out.
Really pushed my button.
It sounds like these parents gave the kid a rifle and let him have his head with it with no supervision -- incredibly stupid.
RIP little angel.
I think it is good for children to be exposed to firearms at a young age and from day one be taught the proper respect and care that needs to go with guns.
At that age they think they are nothing but toys to play with. There are even adults who treat a .22 as a toy.
What kind of a$$hole gives a 5 year old a rifle?
By the time my boys were ten, we lived in a more populated area. They had guns, but were more restricted in their use.
Five is not too young to learn the proper use of guns,but they should be out of reach except when they are supervised. If they can't be locked up, the bolts should be pulled and secured from little hands.
In basic training, my platoon had a guy from Kentucky. He had coke bottle glasses, nearly blind as a bat. He was hitting the targets dead center at 300 meters with his M14. Must have had his first rifle when he was five.
Is there really more than one kind of ass?
I feel sadness for the poor brother who shot his sister. He will likely be messed up his entire life.
I do feel for parents...but they showed a remarkable amount of careless disregard for safety.
Five is not too young to learn the proper use of guns,but they should be out of reach except when they are supervised.
How about 4? Thats not too young, is it? Maybe even 3?
This may be crude but the boy has a good chance of growing up to be a Democratic candidate for President.
He actually was 4 when he received it. Your point is well made and I agree with it. IMO five is also way to young to have a firearm whether in KY or anywhere else.
Was Raylan Givens in the area?
Bubblegum would probably boggle Sharon's mind.
I don’t have a problem with teaching a child that age how to be responsible with a firearm. However, the parents in that house didn’t do that. It doesn’t matter whether the firearm was designed for young children, there is no reason a child should be in possession of the firearm anywhere but a gun range.