Last April, 13-year-old Elijah Yussuf, of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was home alone with his friend, 14-year-old Tyler Winstead. Elijah, who had a "striking fondness and familiarity" with his father's .22-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, was playing with the gun. He turned towards Tyler and unintentionally discharged the weapon.
The bullet struck Tyler in the chest and punctured his lung and heart. Tyler died of his injuries.
Elijah's mother, Angelina Deabreu, helped cover up the incident. She hid the gun and perpetuated Elijah's claim of a drive-by shooting. Deabreu was charged last week with hiding the gun, destroying evidence, and lying to investigators.
The district attorney stated that Elijah's relationship with the gun underscored a child-like curiosity fostered by ignorant parenting and a disregard within his home for standard gun-safety measures.
"I don't know if his mother even knew, or was aware that her child knew there was a gun in the house and that he had access to it," said the district attorney. "That's what scares me. That's what's more frightening than anything - parents not knowing and having kids play with guns in the home. This is what happens."
The investigation into the incident revealed that Elijah had showed the gun to friends months prior to the shooting and had also taken pictures of the gun to show to friends.
The gun was kept in an unlocked lockbox so it was easily accessible.
Elijah is scheduled to be sentenced November 2nd on an undisclosed charge in juvenile court.