The death of an 8-year-old girl at her Georgia home from a gunshot wound to the head is being treated as an accident, police say.
Sharia Lynch died after a handgun allegedly fell to the ground before firing a single shot.
Sharia’s mother, Marsha Lynch, was doing her hair at the time, 11Alive reports. The shot reportedly went through Marsha’s leg before striking Sharia in the head.
Before the 8-year-old could be airlifted to a local hospital, she died of her injuries.
“She was a precious little girl, she made everybody laugh — she was the kind of kid in class everybody loved,” Ann Arnold, the principal at Sharia’s elementary school, said, according to Raw Story. “Our hearts are just broke. We’ve got a lot of tears going on, of course. We’re in shock right now.”
Police are trying to figure out why the gun went off when it fell.
“At this point, detectives are still investigating this case and will speak to the victim and witnesses in more detail once the funeral has taken place,” Sgt. Ashley Henson said in an emailed statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jack Lesher, a firearms expert, told 11Alive that a safety feature on the .9mm handgun should have prevented the bullet from firing.
“It’s only removed at the time that the trigger is pulled, so safety features are heavily incorporated into modern firearms,” Lesher said.
Police do not yet know whether the handgun was altered in any way. They are also investigating who owned the gun.
Local residents were shocked by the incident.
“She was just an all-around sweet little girl, very cute, petite little thing,” Amie Graves, whose child attended school with Sharia, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Just an average 8-year-old just enjoying life. It’s awful. Awful.”
Sharia and her friends sometimes visited Ahue Sims and his wife, who live nearby.
“It was just a horrible accident,” Sims said. “The gun should not have been in the presence of a child.”
“Every day, every week you hear about a kid being killed,” Sims added. “It just needs to stop. Put the guns down.”