June 24, 2013 — -- A New Orleans mother has been charged with murder after her 5-year-old daughter shot herself in the head while home alone in a locked bedroom.
Laderika Smith, 28, was booked Sunday on charges of second-degree murder, after the girl was taken off life support hours after her mother returned home to find the girl dead, police said.
"[Smith] locked her daughter inside the residence for a short period of time while she went to the store," New Orleans Police spokeswoman Hilal Williams said in a statement.
While her mother was out, the girl discovered a loaded .38-caliber revolver and shot herself.
"Upon [Smith's] return, she located the child lying on the bedroom floor with a gunshot wound to the head. Smith did confess to having a gun inside the home," Williams said.
When she discovered her daughter, Smith ran from the home screaming for neighbors to help.
"Lord help me, my child is dying," one neighbor heard the woman scream, according to Louisiana newspaper The Advocate.
The girl was taken to a nearby hospital where she remained on life support for several hours. Smith was initially charged with relative to cruelty to a juvenile, but the charge was later changed to murder when the girl died.
Smith has yet to be arraigned in court. She remained jailed, authorities said, and they did not believe she had retained a lawyer.
The girl's death is part of a trend in which preschool aged children are responsible gun deaths. Since January this year, there have been at least 12 cases in which a child under 6 shot and killed him or herself, or someone else.
Earlier this month, a 4-year-old shot and killed his father. In April, a 2-year-old killed her 5-year-old brother while the pair played with a rifle marketed to children.