A 13-year-old old Georgia boy accidentally shot and killed his 14-year-old sister when he fired at two people who came to buy one of his homemade firearms but stole one instead, officials said.
The boy was manufacturing “ghost guns” — untraceable firearms made from parts that anyone can legally buy online – and selling them from his home in Douglasville, about 20 miles west of Atlanta, CNN reported.
On Saturday, two people showed up to buy one of his creations but instead made off with the weapon, Douglas County Sheriff Tim Pounds told reporters.
The young gun maker opened fire at the pair with what authorities believe was one of his “ghost guns” to prevent the theft, but accidentally struck his older sister, Kyra Scott, officials said.
The boy has admitted to the shooting and was charged with felony murder, according to the sheriff’s office.
Yusef Jabryil McArthur El, 19, one of the two would-be buyers, also has been arrested and charged with robbery and felony murder, according to CNN.
People at the home tried to take Kyra to a hospital but stopped at a gas station, where they were met by police and medical personnel. She was then rushed to the medical center, where she was pronounced dead.
“It’s so sad … because the mother’s losing two kids at one time,” Pounds said. “(The boy was) selling those weapons on the streets of Douglas County, Carroll County, Atlanta – everywhere.”
Meanwhile, police continue to search for the third suspect in the tragic case.
A GoFundMe account set up by another sibling to raise money for Kyra’s funeral service describes her as “the kindest little girl you would’ve ever met. … She had the biggest heart and always wanted to be around her family.”
Kyra was a student at Chapel Hill High School, where grief counselors were brought in to assist students and staff, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
On Wednesday, District Attorney Dalia Racine said her department will review the sheriff’s investigation once it’s concluded.
“Kyra Scott’s death is a tragedy of epic proportion. It’s an unspeakable loss for her family,” Racine said, the newspaper reported.
“This loss is absolutely senseless, and many are grappling to understand how this could happen. We in Douglas County are a community that is in need of healing. Our village has failed to protect our youth,” she said.
“Kyra Scott, by all accounts, was a beautiful and kind soul, and nothing that is done in this case will bring her back,” she added. “The cost of losing our children is simply too high of a price to pay, and we must do better. And we as a community are going to do better.”
Lt. Jon Mauney said additional charges are possible as investigators hope to find out how many guns the 13-year-old made and whether others in the home knew about them, according to the Journal-Constitution.
The use of ghost guns has been on the rise in some major cities, according to CNN.
Between 2016 and 2020, more than 23,000 such firearms were reported to have been recovered by law enforcement, the Justice Department announced in May, the news outlet said.
The sheriff’s office said that “ghost guns” are particularly troubling to law enforcement because they don’t have serial numbers and can’t be traced.
Page Pate, a legal analyst for 11Alive, said it’s a federal crime to scratch off a serial number from a gun — but “ghost guns” offer a loophole because they are sold as parts and have no numbers.
“Under federal law the part for a firearm is not a firearm, and federal law only regulates firearms,” said Pate, an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer. “Now, there’s an exception if it’s an automatic weapon, a part of the machine gun is still a machine gun, but for a regular firearm, a semiautomatic firearm, a part is not the firearm.”
He added: “I think a lot of parents would be surprised to learn that their kids can go online and buy the parts to a gun they can then make themselves. I mean, I think we would assume number one, that’s got to be illegal. Well, it’s not, or two, it’s got to be very difficult to make a gun. It’s not, not anymore.”