Cops say an 8-year-old girl in Tennessee was fatally shot by her 11-year-old neighbor—who allegedly fired at her because she refused to show him her puppy. Now the boy, accused of bullying her in the past, is facing first-degree murder charges.
The fifth-grade suspect “intentionally” shot the victim as she played in front of her White Pine mobile home Saturday evening, Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig said. The boy has been charged in juvenile court, he said.
Police called to the scene around 7:30 p.m. found the girl—identified by family as Makayla Dyer—lying outside with a gunshot wound to the chest. She was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
McCoig declined to release the 11-year-old’s name or a possible motive for the killing at a news conference on Sunday.
But the victim’s mother, Tasha Dyer, accused the boy on social media of “bullying [Makayla] around” and shooting the girl “on purpose.”
“He was bullying her around and the [parents] didn’t do anything about it,” Dyer wrote in a Facebook comment early Sunday. “I need my baby back home. I love her so much.”
The heartbroken mom later told ABC 6 in Knoxville that Makayla was playing outside her trailer when the boy asked to see her puppy. The girl told him no, and he allegedly shot her from inside his mobile home shortly afterwards, Dyer said.
“She was mommy’s girl,” Dyer told a TV reporter through tears. “No matter how bad of a mood you were, in she could always make you smile.”
Dyer said she had previously contacted the school principal because the boy was “making fun of [Makayla], calling her names.” He quit for a while after that, Dyer said.
But the alleged bullying took a tragic, and fatal, turn. Cops say the boy shot Makayla from inside his house using his father’s 12-gauge shotgun. Police also recovered a BB gun at the scene, Sheriff McCoig said.
A day after the shooting, a piece of cardboard covered the broken window of the boy’s rusty family home.
Five other kids were at the boy’s home at the time of the shooting, McCoig told reporters. The state’s Department of Children’s Services also is investigating, but it’s unclear if any other children have been removed from the residence, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
The young suspect had a detention hearing scheduled for Monday morning. A judge could later decide whether the case should be transferred to adult court, WBIR reported.
On Sunday, friends and relatives posted tributes to the little girl on Facebook, as others created a GoFundMe page for memorial services.
“With our family we try our best, but when it rain it pours on us,” one grieving family member wrote on Facebook. “A hug by this sweet girl was equal or greater than winning the lottery.”