4-year-old shoots sister, boy; older sibling tries to protect

Monday, September 29, 2003

LANDOVER, Md. -- A 4-year-old boy found a loaded gun in his family's house and fired it through the front door, killing his 5-year-old sister and seriously wounding another boy, authorities said.

An older sister had seen the child pick up the semiautomatic handgun in the house Saturday night and had rushed the other children outside to try to protect them, but the bullet went through the door, hitting them, said Prince George's County police spokeswoman Cpl. Diane Richardson.

The two wounded children stumbled across the street and collapsed in a neighbor's driveway, she said. Kimberly Brice was pronounced dead after arrival at a hospital.

The bullet had hit the boy, age 7, in the back and then hit Kimberly, Richardson said. The injured boy was expected to survive, she said. Police believe he is the other children's half brother.

"It's a terrible situation that probably could have been avoided," Richardson said. "It's quite obvious the gun was not secured."

She said the 4-year-old cannot be held criminally responsible, but the parents or other adults connected to the house could potentially face charges of leaving the young children unattended or leaving the gun where the children could get to it.

"We're still trying to determine where the parents were" during the shooting, Richardson said. The older sister who was with the children was 10 years old.

The mother of the three siblings went to one of the hospitals after the shooting, Richardson said. A man lives in the house as well, she said, but it wasn't clear Sunday what his relationship to the woman or the children is.

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