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Kentucky parents charged with manslaughter after 3-year-old fatally shoots 2-year-old brother

The parents of a 3-year-old toddler who shot and killed his 2-year-old brother have been charged with manslaughter, Kentucky authorities said.

"This was very much avoidable," said Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders during a news conference addressing the shooting. "This shooting death was caused by the fact that two adults left a loaded handgun with a round in the chamber within reach of a three-year-old child they did not supervise."

The 23-year-old mother, Selena Farrell, was arraigned Friday on charges of second-degree manslaughter and other charges, according to court records. The children's father, 21-year-old Tashaun Adams, was arrested on second-degree manslaughter charges. He has not yet been arraigned, Sanders said. 

The 2-year-old boy was fatally shot on Monday afternoon in an apartment in Northern Kentucky. Police said they arrived at the home around 12:45 p.m. local time and rushed the toddler to the hospital where he later died.

Covington police said the mother allegedly fled the scene before law enforcement arrived, local media WKRC reported, and never showed up at the hospital where her son, Khalil Adams, died.

Farrell told investigators she fled because "she didn't want to be held in jail" and "possibly miss her child's funeral," Sanders said, even though she fled while the child was still alive. The parents told detectives they had the loaded handgun "for protection," Sanders said, adding that the family lived in a one-bedroom apartment with another person, and they slept on a floor mattress while the toddlers slept on a couch. 

U.S. Marshals located Farrell hiding out in a hotel room in Florence, Kentucky, and brought her in on an outstanding probation warrant related to a prior felony conviction, Sanders said. She was with the children's father and another person who had no apparent familial relationship with the parents, said Sanders. All three were taken into custody by authorities, he said. 

Farrell purchased the gun from a federally licensed arms dealer, said Sanders. 

The surviving 3-year-old toddler has no physical injuries, said Sanders. Adams is being held in the Boone County jail, according to jail records, while Farrell is being held at the Kenton County Detention Center In Covington, Kentucky.

Half of U.S. states have safe storage laws

Hundreds of children have been killed while playing with guns over the past two decades, according to data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in December. A majority of these deaths happened while children were playing in an apartment or home – more than 50% of the deaths were in the child's own house. 

"Parents need to do a lot better job of supervising their children so we don't have children with guns," said Sanders. "It's not the law that's the problem, it's the parenting."

Gun control advocates disagree. A 2023 report released by Everytown For Gun Safety says that safe storage procedures and laws can help reduce America's unintentional shootings. At the beginning of 2024, 26 states had some form of gun-safe storage or child access prevention laws. For children between the ages of zero to five years old, more than half died from self-inflicted gunshots, and more than half of the children accidentally killed by another were under 10 years old. 

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