Published October 23, 2013
A southeast Texas woman has been arrested and charged in the death of a 5-year-old boy who died in her care after he apparently shot himself with her gun while she was napping.
Melissa Ringhardt, 19, of Vidor, faces charges of abandoning or endangering a child. She was arraigned Wednesday with bond set at $250,000, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.
The sheriff's office said Ringhardt was baby-sitting John Read in his Vidor home on Monday when he accidentally shot himself with the .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun.
Ringhardt, who was arrested Tuesday, was living with the Read family and the parents were gone during the shooting, according to authorities. The couple's 6-month-old child was also at the residence but wasn't hurt.
12NewsNow.com reported that Ringhardt told investigators was carrying the handgun because she was afraid to be home alone. The pistol was apparently left on a coffee table in the living room when she took a nap.
Ringhardt awoke to find John deceased in the living room and brought both children to the grandparent's house to get help, according to a sheriff's department news release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.