Three years ago, 20 first-grade children at Sandy Hook Elementary School were massacred in a tragic shooting. The outraged nation cried for justice and new legislature on gun laws, but sadly, nothing has changed in the years since. Hundreds of children under the age of 12 are killed by guns in America every year.
Some of these children are killed on purpose, some of the deaths are accidental. It happens to children of every race and social class. Sometimes, these children even shoot themselves, both intentionally and not. The only thing that ties these children together is that they die from gunshot wounds.
Here are some of the stories of these children who have tragically died from guns in America.
1. Ja’Quail Mansaw
According to the little boy’s mother, Balethia Washington, Ja’Quail was such a happy baby, that even when his teeth were coming, he never cried. When he died, Ja’Quail had just started crawling and was learning to talk. His first words were “dada,” and “no.” He was just seven months old when a spray of bullets from the street came into the family home and ended Ja’Quail’s life.
It is still unknown who was responsible for this tragedy. His mother believes that Ja’Quail was caught in the crossfires of a drug dispute gone wrong in the street. Shot through the leg, the baby was brought back to life three or four times in the hospital before being pronounced dead.
2. Nathaniel Hitt
Nathanial Hitt was also just seven months old when his life was ended by a gun. His mom’s boyfriend, Henry Bartle, was cleaning his Mossberg 500 12-gauge pump shotgun. Bartle didn’t have the gun’s safety on, and it accidentally went off when he got up.
Nathanial was killed instantly, and Bartle has since been charged with with criminally negligent homicide.
3. Makayla Dyer
In a tragic chain of events, eight-year-old Makayla Dyer was killed by another child, a boy of just 11 years. The boy, who is not named, came over and asked Makayla if he could see her new puppy. The girl said no, and, according to the police, the boy responded by getting his grandfather’s 12-gauge shotgun and killing her.
The 11-year-old boy was held in juvenile detention center on a first-degree murder charge. His lawyer asked that he be allowed to keep a teddy bear in his cell.
4. Cylie and Caden McCullum
Shortly after midnight, a woman called the police to report that her sister, Michelle McCullum, was threatening to kill herself and her two children, 3-year-old Cycle and 5-year-old Caden, after having lost her job. After searching for them throughout the night, their three bodies were found in Michelle’s car, having each been shot once by a .40-caliber pistol that she legally owned.
The siblings’ funeral service program described the children as inseparable, saying that “wherever Caden was Cylie wanted to be. She loved her ‘brudda’ unconditionally. Without thought, he was her world and she was his.”
5. Olivia Stoffel
The Stoffel family was out enjoying a walk with their dog on a warm evening when they suddenly heard a loud bang. An army veteran, angry after having a fight with his girlfriend, had already shot one stranger and then he turned his gun on the Stoffels.
11-year-old Olivia was killed, along with her father. Her mom was shot three times as well, but survived and was able to get her two other children to safety before the gunman shot himself dead as well.
6. Hank Bollen
Hank Bollen loved the outdoors; in many pictures of the 9-year-old boy he can be seen holding frogs, fishing poles, or clad in hunting gear. So naturally, when he had a day off of school, he headed out to the woods to look for squirrels – bringing along is .22 youth rifle.
Hank never came home. The police described his death saying that it appeared to be a hunting accident. His mother is beside herself knowing that it could have been prevented, saying “What I would do to hold Hank right now.”
7. Payton Benson
5-year-old Payton loved all things girly; makeup, pretty dresses, and Barbie dolls. She was looking forward to starting school for the first time, but it would never happen for her.
Rival gangs opened fire on one another in the streets in front of Payton’s house. Two stray bullets entered their home, and one killed little Payton. Her grade-schooler brother, Latrell said “This is not fair people are dying — not fair at all.”
8. Samuel Epps
11-year-old Samuel Epps went running into his parents’ bedroom after having an argument with them about doing his chores. From outside the room, Samuel’s father heard a shot and forced his way into the room where he found his son lying on the floor with a bullet through his head.
Samuel had found his father’s 9mm pistol and shot himself.
9. Jacob Hambaugh
9-month-old Jacob was crawling around on the kitchen floor while his dad, John, cleaned his .38 caliber handgun. There was still a round of ammunition in the weapon, and when John tried to remove the slide, it discharged instead.
The bullet that was fired went through John’s leg and straight into baby Jacob’s head. Jacob died two days later.
10. Antonio Smith Jr.
Living in South Side Chicago, 9-year-old Antonio Smith Jr. was an honor roll student and had absolutely no ties to the gang that took his life. He ran out of the house upset after being told he couldn’t have any cake, and was found dead in the backyard hours later.
Antonio had been shot six times by gang members who were hunting for their rivals. They thought Antonio yelled a warning to their targets, and intentionally killed the boy as a result.
11. Alton and Ashton Perry
On Alton Perry’s second birthday, his mother, Brenda, arranged to have him and his brother, 6-month-old Ashton, leave daycare early for his birthday party. Brenda’s mother asked if she could pick the babies up, and despite the fact that her mother suffered from mental illness and the two had had a rocky relationship, things had improved lately so Brenda agreed.
The babies never showed up to the party. They were later found dead, along with their grandmother, in their grandmother’s car, the victims of a murder-suicide.
12. Aaron Vu
Aaron was a happy boy and loved to dance around and play his recorder for customers at the nail salon his parents owned. He was inside the salon when two robbers broke in, demanding money and valuables.
As the robbers left, they opened fire, wounding both Aaron and his father. 9-year-old Aaron died from his wounds.
13. Sebastian Swartz
While his dad was at work and his mom was in another room, Sebastian found his dad’s Glock 9mm pistol. He was playing around with it when his older sister tried to take it away him, and the gun fired.
The bullet entered Sebastian’s head, and he remained in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for a week before his parents finally took him off of life support. Both parents faced charges of felony child endangerment, to which the father pleaded guilty. The charges against Sebastian’s mother were dismissed.
14. Tiana Ricks
6-year-old Tiana Ricks was at a house party with her father, Tyrell Ricks. She told him that she was thirsty, and he walked her out to the open garage to get something to drink. While they were in the garage, two men came up the driveway and one of them started shooting.
Tyrell was shot in the pelvis, and Tiana clung to his leg asking if he was okay. She didn’t realize that she’d also been shot herself, and three hours later she died from a bullet that had hit her in the back.
15. Londyn Samuels
Little Londyn Samuels was just one year old and was learning how to walk. After a trip to a nearby park, her babysitter was carrying Londyn home when a gunman shot her from behind. The bullet tore through the babysitter and into Londyn.
The babysitter survived, but Londyn did not. Londyn’s father, Keion Reed, recalls the anguished call he received from the babysitter, saying “She said, ‘Kee, we got shot — me and Londyn.”
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