April 1, 2013

Miami-Dade police seek answers in 4-year-old’s shooting death

A 4-year-old girl, on spring break vacation at her grandfather’s, dies in a shooting incident. Now, police search for answers as her family grieves.

Rahquel Carr was like any other 4-year-old girl who liked to play with toys.

So when she, her 6-year-old brother and another little boy found a gun inside a car on Saturday, it may have looked like a toy, but it was real.

As the three youngsters waited in a Mercedes-Benz outside Rahquel’s grandparents home in Northwest Miami-Dade, there was a shot.

Her mother, Turquisha Peacock, 26, had been about to drive the children home about 6 p.m., and was steps from the car when she heard it.

“As I was entering the vehicle, I heard something hit the glass and as I opened the door she was there gasping for life,” Peacock told Miami-Herald news partner CBS4.

Rahquel was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where she died, according to Miami-Dade police.

As family and friends mourned Monday, detectives released no new information about how Rahquel was killed. Family members, however, said that one of the two boys was handling the gun when it went off. Both boys were questioned by police.

“We don’t know what happened, and in some ways, it doesn’t really matter because that won’t bring my little girl back,’’ Rahquel’s father, Christopher Carr said Monday.

By law, the gun should have been locked in a safe place. The owner of the weapon and the vehicle were questioned by police, but no one was in custody Monday, according to Ed Griffith, spokesman for the state attorney.

Under Florida law, leaving a loaded firearm “within the reach or easy access of a minor” who uses it to inflict injury or death is considered a third-degree felony.

“The problem is children have a fascination with firearms...when they see a firearm they see it on TV and in movies and a lot of times they have toy guns, so when they find a gun they want to see what happens. People tend not to be as cautious as they should be and tragedies happen,’’ said Jon Gutmacher, a gun-law expert, NRA-certified firearms instructor and attorney.

Rahquel’s father said his daughter had been spending spring break with his parents, Willie and Subrina Carr, who lived 12015 NW 20th Ave. Her mother was picking up the children, after they had been at the Miami-Dade County Fair.

Christopher Carr, Rahquel’s father, said “she was a light to everyone.’’

He said Rahquel was especially close to his parents. Rahquel’s grandfather collapsed Saturday upon hearing about her death.

Carr said his 57-year-old father is stable, but was still in the hospital Monday.

Neighbor Yeny Montoya, who was not home at the time of the shooting, said she was heartbroken when she heard what happened across the street.

“I have kids too,” she said. “It’s something that is so hard to believe. It’s so sad.”

Montoya said she often saw the little girl being dropped off for weekend stays with her grandparents.

“Kids shouldn’t be allowed to play with guns,” said Beverly Holland, a neighbor who moved in just two days before the incident. “Where were the parents?”

Gutmacher said decades ago, authorities rarely charged anyone criminally in a case involving the accidental death by firearm of child.

“Usually the grief far outweighs anything the criminal justice system can do them,’’ he said.

Just five months ago, 13-year-old Lourdes Guzman-DeJesus was killed by a teenager who had been playing with his father’s gun on the school bus in South Miami-Dade. The suspect in the shooting, 15-year-old Jordyn Howe, pulled the .40 caliber pistol out of his backpack to show it to another student when the weapon went off..

Howe will be tried as an adult on felony charges of manslaughter and carrying a concealed firearm.

Lourdes’ father, Armando “Alex” Guzman-Cirino, 34, committed suicide a few days later.

Howe’s parents told police that the gun was kept in a closet.

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