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Mayor Scott says 15-year-old NyKayla Strawder would be alive if gun was properly secured

Mayor Scott says 15-year-old Nykayla Strawder would be alive if gun was properly secured
Mayor Scott says 15-year-old NyKayla Strawder would be alive if gun was properly secured 02:42

BALTIMORE -- The mother of 15-year-old NyKayla Strawder told WJZ Tuesday that she is picking out a casket and has written an obituary for her daughter as she still seeks answers in her child's death. 

Baltimore police said a 9-year-old neighbor shot her daughter accidentally on the Strawder's front porch Saturday night in Edmondson Village. 

The gun belonged to a relative of the boy who works as a security officer, authorities said. While an adult can face a charge for failing to secure a weapon, the 9-year-old boy cannot be charged because of his age under a new Maryland law.

The victim's mother, NyKerah Strawder, said she does not believe the shooting was accidental and recounted a past dispute between her son and the 9-year-old boy at a basketball game. 

Under a new state law, the child cannot be charged due to his age. But an adult could face charges if they were negligent in securing the weapon.

Mayor Brandon Scott called the incident "unfortunate" and "a tragedy" in an interview with WJZ Tuesday. 

"The loss of this young lady is going to impact her family, that neighborhood and all of those children and everyone who witnessed it for the rest of their lives," the mayor said.

He also said "responsible gun ownership…did not happen in this case."

"If this gun was properly secured, she would be alive. A mother and father wouldn't be preparing to bury their own child. We wouldn't be having all these children with the trauma that they have. We have to be more responsible with our weapons."

Currently, it is only a misdemeanor with a $1,000 maximum fine for an adult to leave a gun accessible to a minor.

Efforts to toughen that penalty with Jaelynn's Law, named in honor of Jaelynn Willey who was killed in a shooting at Great Mills High School in 2018, have failed repeatedly in the General Assembly.

Jaeylnn was targeted and killed by an ex-boyfriend who gained access to his father's gun.

Her mother pleaded earlier this year with lawmakers to take action. "When a child is granted access to a gun and murders a child, the ramifications are catastrophic," Melissa Willey told lawmakers in February.

In Nykayla Strawder's case, her family simply wants justice and believes the killing was no accident. They said it stemmed from a previous disagreement between the 9-year-old boy and Nykayla's brother.

"It's so sickening. My baby's name will not be played with. I will get justice for her if it takes me until the end of my lifetime," said her mother NyKerah Strawder. "NyKayla did not deserve that. She did not deserve to be taken away from her family."

Family, friends attend vigil for slain 15-year-old girl 02:20

On Tuesday night, family and friends came together to honor NyKayla outside her family's home, turning a crime scene into a memorial site.

They said she was a good girl with a big personality who loved to get her hair done and spend time with her family. People at the vigil chanted, "Justice for Kayla!"

"My first-born granddaughter. I seen her come in the world, and I'm going to see her go out of the world," said Strawder's grandmother.

Additional reporting by Kelsey Kushner.

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