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'He was definitely in shock': Neighbor consoled 10-year-old after deadly shooting of 12-year-old relative

"I'm just beyond sick of hearing about kids picking up guns and shooting themselves or another child. Parents must be held accountable," said MaryAnn Jackson.

ST. LOUIS — "I couldn't sleep after hearing about it," said MaryAnn Jackson.

Jackson said she cannot stop thinking about the family who lives across the street in the 5600 block of Summit Place in north St. Louis.

Police said shortly after 7:30 Tuesday night, a 10-year-old boy shot and killed his 12-year-old relative when they were playing with a shotgun.

"He was just in shock," recalled Jackson.

Jackson said after hearing the commotion, she stormed outside, comforted the boy and talked to him.

"He was crying, but again he was definitely in shock," added Jackson.

Police said the boys were brothers, but Jackson insists they're cousins.

"He said he and his cousin were playing with the gun and then he accidentally shot his cousin in the neck. That's what he said several times. He said it happened in a bedroom upstairs," said Jackson.

Police arrived and found 12-year-old LaFrance Johnson unconscious and not breathing.

Moments later, Johnson, a sixth-grader in the Rockwood School District, died.

Credit: Family photo
LaFrance Johnson

Jackson said after talking to family members, she learned the child's father lives at the homes with other relatives.

She also told 5 On Your Side LaFrance was there to get a haircut.

Jackson also comforted the boy's distraught mother.

"She was saying my child is gone. I just can't believe my child is gone. She collapsed on the sidewalk," recalled the neighbor.

According to data compiled by 5 On Your Side, at least 31 children have been shot so far this year in the City of St. Louis. Four of the young victims died, three in less than a week.

"I'm beyond sick of it," Jackson said. "This is a constant thing. Every time you turn on the news, it's kids, kids, kids or a baby got the gun or a child got the gun. I don't like to say it, but hold these parents accountable."

"I just think that this is horrific," said 27th Ward Alderwoman Pam Boyd, who lives down the street from the shooting scene.

Boyd is pleading for more gun owners to keep their guns away from their kids.

"We've got to lock up the guns. It's a hard pill to swallow and a big price to pay for those mothers who have to bury their babies," said Alderwoman Boyd.

The boy's aunt, Aja Johnson, told police at the scene the gun belonged to her and that she left it in the bedroom. According to court records, she told police she was to blame for her nephew's death. Johnson was taken into custody.

St. Louis police were seeking a charge of endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death. Prosecutors returned with a revised charge Thursday of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

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