HARVEY, La. -- A 9-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the head and killed Wednesday night when an 18-year-old cousin tried to get his gun away from the youngster, a Louisiana sheriff said.
One bullet killed Marquis Thomas Jr., Jefferson Parish coroner's chief investigator Mark Bone said Thursday.
"Love your kids," the boy's mother, Markia Thomas, told reporters outside her one-story brick house in Marrero. "Hug them. Kiss them. Spend time with them. Keep them close. Because you never know what will happen."
Kamone Thomas, 18, of Marrero, has been charged with negligent homicide, obstructing justice and possessing marijuana, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said at a news conference Thursday.
The sheriff said both cousins lived in the same house, and Marquis apparently found the gun in a bedroom. Lopinto did not know if the boys shared a bedroom.
"People have to understand that firearms are as dangerous as vehicles," Lopinto said. "If you handle them improperly, guess what? We have a family grieving: One boy is dead and one is in jail."
Other relatives, including the child's mother and grandmother, were home at the time and told investigators the cousins had not been arguing when the shooting occurred.
Lopinto said the family initially told deputies the boy accidentally shot himself, but the ballistics did not support that story. The teen eventually changed his story to one that more closely matched the evidence.
The obstruction charge was filed because Thomas told deputies he had panicked and had thrown the gun into a canal, the sheriff said.
Markia Thomas said Marquis loved basketball and riding his hoverboard. Holding her daughter as news cameras rolled, she told the little girl, "Say, 'I love you, Marquis.' Say, 'I love you, Kamone.'"
The child did.