A 12-year-old Missouri boy allegedly pulled the trigger on a gun he found in his parents' bedroom, killing his younger sister, who was standing nearby

By KC Baker
December 19, 2018 11:07 AM
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Credit: Parkway School District

A 6-year-old Missouri girl is dead after her older brother accidentally fired a gun and killed her Friday night while her parents attended a Christmas party, PEOPLE confirms.

Maliyah Palmer was at home in Florissant when her 12-year-old brother found a 9mm gun in a dresser drawer in his parents’ bedroom and accidentally fired the weapon, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The first grader was standing nearby when her brother “accidentally discharged a round,” according to a press release issued by the Florissant Police Department and obtained by PEOPLE.

Officers who responded to a 911 call just before 11 p.m. in the St. Louis suburb found the girl with a gunshot wound to the head, say police.

She was rushed to a local hospital where she later died.

The children’s 16-year-old sister was babysitting them while their parents were at the holiday party, the Post-Dispatch reports.

Initially, police said in a release that no charges would be filed.

But on Monday, in an updated release, Police Chief Timothy Lowery said investigators “have not ruled out any charges being filed.”

At the conclusion of this investigation, the release says, the case will be forwarded to both the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s office as well as St. Louis County Family Court for review.

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“You couldn’t have written a more tragic script, the whole thing is just so tragic and terrible, but we have to put our personal feelings aside and do the law enforcement side of this,” Lowery said, the Post-Dispatch reports.

Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, said police had not presented their findings to prosecutors as of Monday morning, the Post-Dispatch reports.

The shooting affected the police officers who worked on the case, Lowery said.

“All of the officers who responded to the scene are mothers and fathers, so you can only imagine how personal it is to see a child shot in the back of the head,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “We will have counselors here for a debriefing hopefully this week to make sure the mental state of our officers is OK.”

Maliyah was a student at Green Trails Elementary School in Chesterfield.

Over the weekend, Principal Rene Summers sent a letter to students’ families to share the news and to let them know extra counselors would be on hand, Fox 2 News St. Louis reports.

The daycare center Maliyah attended as a younger child is collecting funds to help defray the costs of her funeral.

“Our beautiful former student, Maliyah Palmer, lost her life at the young age of 6 years old in a tragic accident,” the Urban Sprouts Child Development Center said in a post on Facebook. “We are asking for your help in supporting her family in their time of grief.”