Police say a 12-year-old girl fatally shot her 14-year-old cousin, then herself, in a live broadcast on Instagram that the girl’s mother portrayed as a “freak accident” that occurred during a family party.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department initially described the deaths of Kuaron Harvey, 14, and Paris Harvey, 12, as a murder-suicide, reports TV station KSDK.
But family members who watched the video said it showed otherwise.
“It was no murder. It wasn’t a suicide,” said Paris’ mother, Shinise Harvey, 35, who did not see the video but heard it described by others, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It was a freak accident.”
Officers responded just before 2 a.m. Friday to find the two children dead, reports TV station KMOV.
The children were alone in a bathroom at an apartment space that had been rented for the family birthday celebration.
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“Everybody was getting together to celebrate, and so the younger kids, they got a bed and breakfast,” Harvey said, according to KSDK. “They were making a video, and (Paris) was playing with the gun, but it went off and hit him.”
The girl’s grandmother, Susan Dyson, who had seen the Instagram Live video, told the Post-Dispatch: “It wasn’t a situation where they were arguing or anything like that. They were playing with the gun, when they shouldn’t have been. Of course, they shouldn’t have been doing it. I think it just went off. It went off by mistake.”
Police still are investigating who owned the gun and whether anyone might face related charges, reports KSDK. Neither of the children’s mothers was present at the party.
The police department later posted a graphic depicting white lilies to its official Facebook page, along with the words, “We are sending our heartfelt condolences to the family of 12-year-old Paris Harvey & 14-year-old Kuaron Harvey who tragically passed away on 3/25/22.”
Family members created separate GoFundMe pages to help cover funeral costs for Kuaron and Paris.
The two cousins were raised together, often FaceTimed, pulled pranks and made videos together, family members told the Post-Dispatch. They described the seventh-grader Paris as a “beautiful spirit” and said Kuaron was a funny eighth-grader who could do “backflips out of this world.”
Family members told the newspaper that they believed the gun belonged to the boy.
“No matter how good we try to raise our kids, they still are going to venture off,” the girl’s mother said.