Woman Charged with Murder Following Alleged Gun Safety Lesson

A Tennessee woman, aged 25, is facing charges of murder and aggravated child abuse following an incident where she allegedly shot a 4-year-old girl during a supposed lesson on gun safety. The woman, identified as Breanna Gayle Devall Runions, is accused of pressing a loaded firearm against the frightened child’s chest and pulling the trigger. The incident occurred on Sunday at a residence in Rockwood, Roane County, where Runions, another unidentified woman, and a second child were present. None of the women were parents to the children involved.

Upon arrival at the scene, Runions informed the police that the shooting occurred while she was demonstrating firearm safety to the child. According to the arrest warrant, Runions took her Taurus Millenium 9mm handgun out of its case, removed the magazine, and called the child over. She then pressed the gun’s barrel against the child’s torso and fired, discharging a round into the child.

The police report suggests that even though the magazine was removed, there was still a bullet in the chamber when the gun was fired. Runions’ explanation raised suspicions among investigators, especially after the other woman present in the house claimed that Runions had punished the children that morning for not waking them up and for eating her food.

The other child present during the incident reportedly confirmed that Runions had hit both children with a sandal and made them stand in the corner of her bedroom as a form of punishment. The victim was later pronounced dead at the county hospital after the two women attempted to save her by driving to a Walmart parking lot and contacting emergency medical services.

Local CBS affiliate WVLT reported that the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) had previously been called to the residence where the shooting took place. Runions was also reported to have a handgun permit. However, DCS did not provide specific details about the case or confirm if there had been prior contact at the home. They also did not explain why the children were in the home with Runions and the other woman, who were not their parents.

Runions is currently held on a $1.5 million bond in the first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse case. Under Tennessee law, a person can be charged with first-degree murder if they kill another person while committing or attempting to commit aggravated child abuse, among other offenses. The charge of first-degree murder can lead to a death sentence, life without parole, or life in prison upon conviction.

Roane County criminal court records show that Runions had seatbelt violations in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Civil case records indicate that Synchrony Bank filed a “civil warrant” against Runions in March 2023. A hearing scheduled for July 12 in the case was postponed, and there has been no apparent docket activity since.