Canton police continue investigation after 11-year-old charged with reckless homicide of 6-year-old

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CANTON, Ohio (WJW) – A 6-year-old boy has died and an 11-year-old neighbor is charged with reckless homicide after a shooting in another neighbor’s yard late Monday.

Canton police were summoned to the 500 block of 19th street NW shortly before 8 p.m. Monday.

A neighbor of the boys, who asked not to be identified, tells Fox 8 News she was bathing her own kids when she heard a loud noise outside her window.

“When I was in my room giving my kids a bath and I heard a big boom … but I’m like, that can’t be no trash can,” she said. “When I came outside this baby is laying in my yard with a blanket. I didn’t hear him cry; I didn’t hear anything.”

The shooting happened in a yard between two homes, a few doors away from where the boys lived.

The 6-year-old, who Fox 8 was told lived in the neighborhood with his family for only a few weeks, was driven by private vehicle to Mercy Medical Center where he later died.

Canton City Councilman Frank Morris posted a message on the Ward 9 Facebook page not long after the shooting hoping to calm fears of a random drive-by shooting in the neighborhood, which is just a block away from the ward he represents.

“It was two children playing with a gun when the gun went off,” Morris posted.

Police cannot confirm details of the investigation, including what the boys were doing with a gun, after a local judge imposed a gag order preventing the release of any information.

As of late Tuesday, the incident, including who owns the gun and how the 11-year-old was able to get it, remained under investigation.

“I understand that people have firearms and want to protect their family, but at the same time if you have a firearm and you have it there to protect your family also remember to protect your family and keep it in a locked box, keep it away from children,” said Morris in an interview with Fox 8 News.

Morris said the shooting is at least the third in the past nine days in the city of Canton, including a weekend incident involving two teenagers which resulted in another fatality.

The 19th Street N.W. resident who spoke with Fox 8 News said her children played with and knew the 11-year-old involved in Monday’s shooting very well.

“My kids play with him almost every day, like I’ve been here for two years so he played with that guy for two years straight and when I told him about it he was devastated, and he’s 5,” she said.

“I’m not going to say that’s what he wanted to do, but I think he wanted to show everybody what he had and the little boy must have thought it was a gun or whatever and it went off,” she added.

Police say they filed the charges after conferring with the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office.

In a printed news release, Canton police said, “Tragedies like this emphasize the need for firearm safety and safe keeping of firearms. The names of the victim and suspect are being withheld at this time.”  

“We all know that children are curious and it’s a tragedy and as I said, our prayers go out to the family,” said Morris. “I mean it’s horrific and I don’t know how they could be dealing with this right now.”

The Canton Police Detective Bureau continues to investigate how the firearm was obtained. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Canton Police Detective Bureau at 330-489-3144 or send an anonymous text to tip411 and your message with the word Canton.

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