Mother Charged After Girl, 11, Shoots Boys
An 11-year-old girl will not be prosecuted for the shotgun shooting death of a 14-year-old boy--but her mother was charged for negligent storage of a loaded weapon, authorities said Friday.
“Our intention is to place the responsibility where it belongs, with the parent who recklessly left the gun accessible to a young child,” said Jim Hackleman, chief deputy of the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office.
The charges stem from the July 18 shooting of two 14-year-old boys by the 11-year-old girl, whose name has not been released because she is a juvenile. Evan Clark was killed and his friend, Jeremy Elliott, is recovering from serious facial injuries.
The boys were playing in the girl’s front yard and when they refused to leave, the girl took the shotgun from beneath her mother’s bed and, standing in the living room, pointed the weapon through a front window, Hackleman said.
“She was attempting to scare them off, not injure them,” he said. A witness told investigators that the girl was having difficulty shouldering the pump shotgun and that when it started to drop, she “attempted to gain control of it by grabbing it tighter, and that’s when it went off,” Hackleman said.
Previous reports that the boys were taunting her or otherwise had provoked the shooting were exaggerated, Hackleman said.
“She’s a very intelligent little girl and it’s difficult to say what was in her mind, but since she’s under the age of 14, she’s presumed in juvenile law to be unable to appreciate the nature of her act,” Hackleman said. “And our investigator got the strong sense she had no concept of the power of this weapon.”
The girl’s mother, Susan Heaberlin, 38, was charged with two felony counts of criminal storage of a firearm and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of three years, eight months in prison.
Bruce Clark, father of Evan Clark, said he was satisfied by the district attorney’s decision. “I was concerned they wouldn’t do anything,” he said. “I’m glad they filed charges against the mom; she was the one responsible for leaving the firearm where the girl could get it.”