A 31-year-old man is accused of shooting a 2-year-old girl dead in North Carolina. The suspect is James Fuller Stepp of Hendersonville, North Carolina. The victim was Abigail Newman. She died after being shot on October 26.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Stepp Could Face a String of Charges
WLOS reports that Stepp is facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter but the station notes that further charges could be forthcoming. Major Frank Stout of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office said “We’re still investigating. We’re not sure of the exact details what led to the accidental discharge from the weapon, so our investigators are working at this time trying to determine what happened.” He posted a $5,000 bond and has been released from jail.
2. Abigail Newman Was Shot in the Neck
Newman did not live at the home where she died, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times. She was being cared for by someone who lived there, along Golden Eagle Way in Hendersonville, close to the Valley Hill Fire and Rescue station. It was a woman, believed to be Stepp’s wife, who called 911 from the home telling an operator “One of the guns was loaded on the table and I didn’t know it. A little girl was shot.” She was shot in the neck and was still breathing when emergency responders got to the home. The Citizen Times reports that due to bad weather, a helicopter couldn’t be used in the extraction.
3. In Total, 582 Children Have Died From Guns in the US in 2015
In the state of North Carolina it’s a misdemeanor to allow minors access to guns without supervision. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2015 alone 582 children aged 11 or younger have died from guns in the U.S. Meanwhile, over 2,000 children aged 12-17 have been killed by guns. In total, 1,543 have died from unintentional gunshots in 2015.
4. The Woman Looking After Newman Has 4 Kids of Her Own
Fox Carolina reports that the woman who was babysitting Newman had been doing so since the toddler was an infant. She is said to be devastated, according to the babysitters grandfather. That woman has four children of her own. The Asheville Citizen Times reports that the three other children who were at the home were ages 7, 4, and four months.
5. Stepp Only Has Minor Driving Offenses on His Criminal Record