An 18-month-old girl was shot in the head and killed inside a Florida home over the Labor Day weekend, leading to the arrest of a person of interest, officials said.
Police received a “frantic” 911 call about a child who had been shot inside a rental home on Ranwood Lane in Palm Coast shortly before noon Sunday, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
The tot was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the head and rushed to Advent Health Palm Coast, where she died. The youngster was not immediately identified.
There were eight people inside the house at the time of the shooting, among them the baby’s “distraught” biological mother and a person of interest, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said during a press conference Monday.
“We’re not ruling anyone out in that house, and while we have a primary person of interest, it would be a lot easier if everybody would tell us the truth and exactly what went on in that house,” he said.
The person of interest, Cj Nelson Jr., 21, was booked into the county jail on a probation violation stemming from a weapons offense.
Nelson has not been charged in the tot’s death “yet,” Staly stressed.
There was no immediate word on Nelson’s connection to the baby, but the sheriff said he was not the girl’s biological father.
During a search of the crime scene, investigators allegedly recovered the gun used in the shooting, which the sheriff described as an American tactical assault pistol capable of firing bullets of different calibers.
Also seized were 420 grams of marijuana and 11 grams of a white powdery substance believed to be either cocaine or heroin, Staly told reporters.
When asked whether it was possible that the baby accidentally shot herself, the sheriff was emphatic that she did not handle the gun.
“The child did not touch the firearm. The child is an innocent victim in this case, with no actions by the child’s part playing into effect to her death,” Staly said.
The sheriff complained that all eight adults present inside the home during the shooting have not been “totally cooperative” with the investigation – a development he found to be “frustrating.”
In its initial press release announcing the child’s shooting death, the sheriff’s office said it may have been accidental. On Monday, Staly vowed to hold someone accountable for the baby’s death.
“This was a life cut too short. We know God now has an angel,” the sheriff said.