Watch CBS News

Hours before killing son in Burnsville, man was arrested for domestic assault and released on bond, court docs state

Burnsville boy's death leads to questions over new "red flag" law
Burnsville boy's death leads to questions over new "red flag" law 02:18

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — A Burnsville family is dealing with unspeakable tragedy after the deadly shooting of an 8-year-old boy.

Cherish Edwards says her son, Amir Harden, was shot last week trying to protect her from his violent father. Harden died over the weekend.

New court documents show within 24 hours of the shooting, Harden's father was booked on domestic assault charges and released on bond.

Edwards says Harden's father was trying to shoot her but he accidentally shot his son instead.

"[Harden] wanted to protect his mommy," Edwards said. "It's just unimaginable, an 8-year-old trying to wrestle the gun out of a grown man's hand. It's unbearable pain."

8-year-old boy killed protecting mother, and more headlines 05:29

Edwards says she told Harden to run outside, but he wouldn't leave her.

"He tried to kill me. And he aimed for me, somehow missed, and my child got the bullet instead," she said.

After the shooting, she says Harden's father turned the gun on himself while her four other children watching. He's in the hospital in critical condition. Burnsville police are investigating what happened, and a city spokesperson said Wednesday that criminal charges will be considered if Harden's father lives.

"We're finally free of him, but my child paid the ultimate sacrifice," she said. "My children, all of them, I feel so bad for them. They are traumatized. It's going to take years, if it ever goes away."  

Edwards remembers her son as a bright light, a goofball and a gifted athlete.

"Very happy little boy," she said. "He was courageous. He was a leader, a protector of his siblings. He was my biggest cheerleader. Every day I go to work, he'd say, 'Have a good day, Mommy. I love you.'"

Amir Harden Cherish Edwards

Edwards says Harden's father had a history of violence leading up to this incident, and she has a word of warning to other women in abusive relationships.

"It doesn't matter if he hit you 10 years ago, he's got to leave," she said. "Next time that'd be your life or your child's life. I think a lot of women think it'll never be them."

Harden's death leads to questions about Minnesota's new "red flag" law

A new police report notes Harden's father "has a permit to carry a firearm... and almost always carries a firearm on his person." The report also says his "arrest is necessary to prevent imminent harm."

WCCO spoke on Thursday with Meggie Royer, prevention program manager for Violence Free Minnesota.

"Sometimes the person who is using harm feels like they're losing power and control over the victim-survivor, so they might escalate that violence to kind of try to regain that control," Royer said. "And unfortunately, in this situation, I think that may have been what happened because the mom had attempted to leave the relationship."

Minnesota has a new "red flag" law to allow the removal of guns in these kinds of circumstances, but it's unclear if it was considered in this case. 

"We really want to recommend that the legal system is really assessing these cases on an individual basis in terms of a potential threat to the victim's safety," Royer said. "So really, just kind of questions about what kind of assessment was involved in that case."

WCCO reached out to the city of Burnsville about the police report on Thursday and received the following statement the next day: "Since the investigation continues to be ongoing we do not have additional information to share at this time." 

For anonymous, confidential help, people can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, get help from the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. Trained crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day to talk about anything. 

In addition, help is available from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. Call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-6264 or text "HelpLine" to 62640. There are more than 600 local NAMI organizations and affiliates across the country, many of which offer free support and education programs.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.