NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Police in Tennessee say a toddler apparently shot a 7-year-old cousin to death at an apartment.
Nashville police said in a news release that Harmony Warfield died at a hospital after being shot Tuesday.
The statement says four other relatives were inside the apartment, including her 29-year-old aunt and other children ages 14, 11 and 2. The children were in the kitchen area when a shot was heard, and the 14-year-old reported the 2-year-old was holding a pistol. Youth Services detectives believe the shooting was accidental.
No charges were immediately filed and it wasn't known how the toddler got the weapon. The gun wasn't recovered, and police were seeking a friend of the aunt to determine what he knows about the gun. The statement said the man was outside the apartment, went inside to see what happened and fled the area.
Metropolitan Nashville Police officer Joel Bontrager told The Tennessean that calls for young children being shot are rare.
"It's almost always an accident," he said. "It's always avoidable."
Another aunt, Dumonique Batey, 21, said Harmony was "an angel" and a "sweet, helpful child."
"She loved reading and she smiled all day, every day," said Batey, who wasn't at the apartment at the time the girl was shot.
Neighbor Tamika Rucker said Harmony would often take turns riding her 4-year-old son's bicycle or come to her for a hug or a treat. She said he couldn't understand how a toddler could manage to lift a gun and pull the trigger.
"It hurts," Rucker said. "It's not easy being a mother. Watch your kids because stuff happens so fast."