18-Month-Old Girl Fatally Shot in the Head

Late Sunday of the Labor Day weekend, a distressing 911 call led Florida deputies to a Palm Coast rental home where a baby girl had been fatally shot in the head. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office reported that the incident occurred before midnight at 2 Ranwood Lane, with six individuals present at the time of the shooting. The 18-month-old victim was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead upon arrival.

As of Monday morning, the investigation was still in its early stages, with no allegations of criminal activity or arrests made. The authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the shooting was accidental. The Major Case Unit detectives are actively collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses, with the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Crime Scene Investigators.

Florida law stipulates that it is a second-degree misdemeanor offense if a firearm is not stored or left in the required manner, resulting in a minor gaining access to the weapon. The law mandates that firearms should be kept in a securely locked box or container, or in a location deemed secure by a reasonable person. Alternatively, it should be secured with a trigger lock unless the person is carrying the firearm on their body or within close proximity that they can retrieve and use it as easily and quickly as if they carried it on their body.

In cases where a family member accidentally shoots a minor, Florida’s criminal culpable negligence statute provides a possible explanation for the absence of immediate arrests. The statute states that no arrest should be made within seven days of the shooting. The investigating officers are required to file all findings and evidence with the state attorney’s office, which will then evaluate the evidence and take appropriate action.

The culpable negligence statute also categorizes it as a third-degree felony to store or leave a loaded gun within the reach or easy access of a minor who then uses it to inflict injury or death upon themselves or any other person. Earlier this year, a 2-year-old boy accessed a firearm and shot his mother during a Zoom call, leading to charges against the gun owner for leaving the gun out without the required supervision.

Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly expressed his condolences to the family and friends of the victim, describing the incident as a “tragic situation.” He assured the community that there was no threat and that all persons present or involved in the incident had been identified. He also stated that the investigation would continue in collaboration with the State Attorney’s Office Homicide Investigation Unit until all facts are known.