MiamiCommunity & Society

South Florida Shaken by Child Gun Tragedy, Miami Mom Charged as Officials Push for Firearm Safety

South Florida Shaken by Child Gun Tragedy, Miami Mom Charged as Officials Push for Firearm SafetySource: Google Street View
Carlos Mendez
Published on December 10, 2023

A surge in accidental shootings among children is prompting officials to call for greater gun safety awareness. In a recent case, a Miami-Dade County mother was arrested following the tragic death of her 4-year-old daughter, Josalyn Marie Taylor-Rolle, who was shot by her brother with an unsecured firearm, according to WESH. Krystal Marie Banegas, 24, is now facing multiple counts of child neglect, and her bond has been set at $80,000.

NBC 6 reports that alongside Banegas, Quavanta Demettris Ennels, aged 25, is also charged with child neglect, and after the shooting, he was additionally arrested on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The incident, which occurred on November 5, left the community horrified after the young girl was found with a gunshot wound to the head and later died in the hospital.

North Miami police are distributing pamphlets on firearm responsibility and suicide prevention, intensifying efforts to promote gun safety. "In the United States, guns are the leading cause of death among children and teens," North Miami's police chief stated in an awareness campaign covered by NBC Miami. He emphasized that most accidental shooting deaths among children involve guns that are left loaded and unsecured.

The situation is urgent, as reflected by a recent episode where a 10-year-old boy in North Miami accidentally fatally shot himself and a 3-year-old girl shot herself in the hand when she found a loaded gun on a couch. "It is a wake-up call for all of us," Councilman Pierre Charles told NBC Miami, stressing, "Gun Safety is life safety." In two of these cases, adults have been criminally charged with connecting to children's access to firearms, pointing to a need for increased accountability and preventative measures.

To bolster these initiatives, North Miami has partnered with Project Childsafe to distribute 1,000 gun locks to residents, aiming to extend the life-saving device beyond their jurisdiction wherever possible. Gun safety experts advocate the essentials: never store a loaded gun at home, use trigger locking devices, educate household members about firearms, and never point a gun at anyone. One expert even underscored to NBC6 that when it comes to kids firing guns, these should not be seen as accidents but rather instances of negligence.

MiamiCommunity & Society