8-year-old boy fatally shoots 1-year-old girl after finding dad's gun in Florida motel
The boy's father was arrested on multiple charges, including negligence.
A 45-year-old man was arrested after his 8-year-old son found his loaded gun in a Florida motel room, fatally shot a 1-year-old girl and wounded her 2-year-old sister, authorities said.
The shooting unfolded Saturday night in Pensacola and investigators alleged the father attempted to cover up the incident by removing the gun and suspected drugs from the room before sheriff's deputies were called to the scene.
The boy's father, Roderick Dwayne Randall, was arrested on charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, tampering with evidence, culpable negligence and failure to safely store a firearm.
The baby girl who was killed and her sister are the daughters of Randall's girlfriend, who was asleep in the motel room when the shooting occurred, Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a news conference on Monday.
“Roderick leaves the hotel, but leaves his firearm in a closet [in] apparently what he thought was a safe holster," Simmons said.
Simmons said Randall's son knew where his father had hidden the gun.
"He pulls the gun from the holster, starts playing with it and fires a round into the 1-year-old toddler, ultimately killing the 1-year-old," Simmons said.
He said the bullet went through the toddler and hit her sister. A third child in the room, the twin of the injured girl, was not injured, Simmons said.
Simmons said Randall returned the room following the shooting. He alleged that Randall removed the gun and a bag of suspected drugs from the room before returning.
"This is not how we treat our children," Simmons said. "Our hearts go out to the rest of the families. This is ridiculous."
Simmons said Randall has a 129-page criminal history that includes 14 previous felony convictions.
He was booked at the Escambia County Jail on $41,000 bond.
Relatives of the dead girl identified her as Kacey Bass.
Kacey's mother was not charged in the episode.
At the same news conference, Simmons detailed an unrelated case of another parent arrested over the weekend on child neglect charges. He announced the arrest of a 27-year-old woman he alleged left her 1-year-old son in a hot car with the windows rolled up while she went to a bar.
Madison Haley Hart was jailed on $15,000 bond on a charge of child neglect with great bodily harm, according to online jail records.
Simmons alleged that Hart was apparently intoxicated when she showed up at the Ticket Sports Bar on Saturday night and stayed for about 20 minutes. He said bar employees stopped Hart from leaving due to her impaired condition and called the sheriff's office.
Simmons said deputies exercised the Myers Act, which allows law enforcement officers to detain people for involuntary detox or alcohol treatment if they appear to be a danger to themselves or others. After deputies took Hart to a medical facility, a relative of the woman contacted authorities and informed them Hart should have been with her 1-year-old child and gave them a description of Hart's car, Simmons said.
Simmons alleged that Hart denied driving to the bar and never mentioned her child was in a car outside the establishment.
He said that deputies went back to the bar and found the toddler locked inside a car with the windows rolled up. By the time deputies discovered the child, the boy had been in the car for more than an hour, Simmons said.
“We actually have to break the windows out to save this child, who was suffering from heat-related illness," said Simmons, adding that Hart's son was treated at a hospital and turned over to the custody of a child protective team. "You can imagine the shock of the employees and of the deputies when we find out that there was a 1-year-old left in a car in this type of heat."
Simmons used the examples of Randall and Hart to "encourage parents to do better."
"Ms. Hart and Mr. Randall will have their day in court," Simmons said.
It was not clear if Hart or Randall had retained or were appointed defense attorneys.