5 Year Old Texas Child Kills Himself With Gun Belonging to Babysitter
A 19-year-old Texas woman was arrested Tuesday after a 5-year-old child she was babysitting accidentally shot himself with a gun while she napped.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office officials say Melissa Ann Ringhardt of Vidor, who lives with the boy’s family, left her .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun on a coffee table while she napped in another room Monday. When Ringhardt woke up, she found John Read, the young boy left in her care, dead in the living room with a fatal gunshot wound.
Another 6-month-old child also in her care was not harmed. Ringhardt carried both children to their grandparent’s home a block away to seek help.
Ringhardt told police she had the gun because she was anxious being home alone. Orange County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Clinton Hodgkinson told a local news affiliate that’s no excuse for her irresponsible behavior.
"People have the right to bear arms, and with that comes great responsibility," Hodgkinson told KFDM-TV of Beaumont. "If someone, somehow, puts a firearm in a place where a child is able to get that weapon, you've committed an offense."
Ringhardt has been arrested and faces a felony charge of abandoning or endangering a child. Her bond has been set at $250,000, and she could serve six months to two years in prison if convicted.