A 13-year-old has been charged with criminal homicide in a November shooting that killed his 5-year-old brother, Pennsylvania police said.
The teen was charged as an adult initially because the state’s law does not allow criminal homicide charges to be filed directly in juvenile court, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement to McClatchy News.
“What happened in Penn Hills was an intentional act that resulted in the tragic death of a 5-year-old,” the office said.
On the evening of Nov. 22, police officers were called to a home in Penn Hills. They found a 5-year-old boy who had been shot once. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, an initial news release from Allegheny County police said.
At the time, detectives believed that a 6-year-old sibling had “accidentally shot the victim while handling an unsecured firearm,” the release said. The gun was legally owned by a parent in the home, police said.
But after an investigation, a 13-year-old sibling has been charged.
Detectives determined that four children ages 3, 5, 6 and 13 were left unsupervised while the loaded handgun “was left within the reach of each child,” Allegheny County police said in a Dec. 14 news release.
The teen told investigators that he was angry at his siblings for jumping on the bed and grabbed his father’s gun to scare them, news outlets reported. He told police he thought the safety was on when he pulled the trigger and fatally shot his brother, according to the release.
The 13-year-old was arraigned by video on Dec. 14 ”while still at county police headquarters and immediately taken to a juvenile housing facility.”
“It is our intention to transfer this case to juvenile court forthwith and allow a judge to decide what is the best course of supervision and treatment for this child,” the district attorney’s office said in the statement.
Police said they anticipate filing criminal charges against the children’s parents as well.
Penn Hills is a township about 13 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.