LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Police said Wednesday that a 9-year-old girl pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting of her 7-year-old brother while their parents were briefly away from their Arkansas apartment.
The shooting on Monday afternoon was not an accident, Little Rock Police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said, but he declined to comment any further. Hastings' remarks come a day after a police spokeswoman said the girl shot her brother and then backtracked to say only that the girl was responsible for the shooting.
The girl initially told investigators that two men entered the apartment and shot her brother, police said. But there were no signs of forced entry and the girl's father told investigators she has autism and often tells stories.
The boy was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Under Arkansas law, the girl cannot be charged with a crime because of her age. It's not clear whether anyone else could be charged, and a prosecutor declined to comment about the case Wednesday because he hasn't seen a report from investigators.
Hastings declined to say how the girl got a hold of the gun. The children's father said he had firearms in a case in the back bedroom, according to a police report. Authorities found blood marks in that room, along with a large pool of blood in the closet.
Hastings also declined to clarify how long the parents were away from the home when they left to sign paperwork at a nearby leasing office.
The children's father said he and his wife "had left approx. 5 minutes earlier and had locked the front door upon leaving," according to a police report. The door was still locked when he returned and he said he didn't believe anyone else had entered the home, according to the report.
He added that his daughter has high-functioning autism, though it's not clear whether that played a role in the shooting.
Authorities are not releasing the girl's name because she is a juvenile. The Associated Press is not naming the boy or his parents so as not to identify the girl.
A woman who answered a phone number listed for the family says they're not ready to talk.
On the father's Facebook page, friends offered their sympathies. He wrote openly about the family's loss.
"I need you buddy," he posted on Facebook on Wednesday. "I miss you so bad, this isn't getting any easier. I can only live minute by minute without you."
In another post, he said even the family dog is grieving.
The dog "keeps looking for him room to room, and she is crying uncontrollably and stops at the spots where he bled," the father wrote.