Accidental shooting: No charges filed in Crozet girl's death
Maggie Hollifield's obituary describes a camp-loving 10-year-old who died from a "tragic accident" in her Crozet home. Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford agrees and will not seek indictments against the girl's 13-year-old brother nor her parents for the fatal May 21 shooting.
Maggie's father, Paul Hollifield, pastor at Commonwealth Christian Community, which operates Victory Hill Church of God After School Care, and his wife Anne had left their four children home that Tuesday morning to attend to business. That was not unusual for the home-schooled children, who ranged in ages from 9- to 15-years-old, according to a June 13 letter from Lunsford to Steve Sellers, Albemarle police chief, detailing what happened.
The night before, the brother had cleaned and taken apart his shotgun in the living room. The gun had been given to him by a relative and was not working properly, says the prosecutor's letter.
The next morning, he was making a modification to the gun and had taken out the shells but forgot one in the chamber. In cycling shells through the gun to make sure it was working, the firearm discharged and struck Maggie, who was standing behind a love seat upon which their 9-year-old sibling was sitting.
"The 13-year-old did not recall pulling the trigger but acknowledged that his hand would have been near the trigger at the time," writes Lunsford.
The brother and older sister ran to a neighbor's house, where the neighbor called 911 and the children called their mother.
Paul Hollifield told the police that his son normally was very cautious about the gun and that he trusted his son, who had taken a hunter's safety course, with the weapon.
There were no conflicts between the siblings, reports Lunsford, and Hollifield describes his son as "tender-hearted." Lunsford determined that the shooting was accidental, and there was no probable cause for charging the teen with involuntary manslaughter.
She also determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge the parents with neglect or abuse of the children, or of recklessly leaving a firearm unsecured.
The children were interviewed in the presence of a parent, she notes, and the questioning was conducted "with sensitivity" to the young ages of the primary witnesses.
The death of Maggie, concludes Lunsford, was "a tragic accident."
In another recent shooting by a 13-year-old, a Chesterfield boy brought a pistol to a friend's house June 13, accidentally discharged it, and struck a 13-year-old girl in the leg, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The boy has been charged with reckless handing of a firearm, discharging a weapon within a residence and possession of a firearm by a juvenile.Attached Documents: