Florida police arrest sisters aged 11 and 15 over shooting of 16-year-old brother

Police trying to determine circumstances of Monday's fatal shooting

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The Independent Online

Police in Florida are an in a hunt for answers after they arrested two sisters, aged 15 and 11, and charged they with shooting dead their 16-year-old brother. The children’s parents have been arrested and charged with neglect.

Officials in Columbia County, in northern Florida, said the two girls entered a police station on Monday to report that their brother was dead. Officers went to the home and found the boy's body in the living room.

Police said they believe the 15-year-girl shot dead her brother using a weapon she found in her parents’ bedroom. The 11-year-old girl “somehow assisted in the shooting but didn’t pull the trigger”, said sheriff’s spokesman Murray Smith.

Mr Murray told the Gainesville Sun that police were still trying to determine the circumstances of the shooting. A three-year sibling of the children, who was in the house at the time, is now in state custody. “There’s no real rhyme or reason to it,” said Mr Smith. “Obviously there were problems with the children.”

Reports said that the parents of children were arrested on Tuesday afternoon. Keith  Kornegay, 37, and Misty  Kornegay, 32, were both charged with failure to supervise their children. Mr Kornegay is a truck driver and Mrs Kornegay had left with him to complete a trip, said police.

Campaigners in the US have in recent months been stepping up an effort to try and persuade gun owners, particularly those with young children, to do more to ensure the security of their weapons.

Last month, Veronica Rutledge, a 29-year-old nuclear scientist was shot and killed by her two-year-old son who reached into her purse and squeezed the trigger on a concealed firearm she was carrying in her purse. The incident happened while Mrs Rutledge was shopping with her children in an Idaho supermarket.

At the time, Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the Brady Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, told The Independent that an estimated 1.7m children across the US lived in homes where there were unlocked, loaded guns. In Idaho, an estimated five per cent of homes with young children had unlocked, loaded weapons, putting 17,030 youngsters there in potential harm.

“Many parents bring a gun into the home legally with no intent of doing harm,” he said. “Many think they’re doing their family a service by offering protection. Yet these guns cause the majority of gun deaths and injuries. Tragedies could be avoided if parents would only take simple steps to ensure that these guns are not accessible to their children.”

In Florida, local prosecutor, Jeff Siegmeister, said he had not yet decided whether to charge the children as adults.

“Sometimes we can send them home after that, but in light of all of the facts in this case, we don’t have any place to send the children,” he told local media.  “I may be forced to actually charge them as adults to hold them in juvenile detention until I can work something out. I don’t know all of the facts yet.”