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Family Speaks Out After 10-Year-Old Girl Shot, Killed

Reported by: Send eMail Kera Mashek
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Reported: Dec. 23, 2013 7:59 AM EST
Updated: Dec. 24, 2013 9:34 AM EST

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Young Girl Dies
Eyewitness News Photo

Quick , Kanawha County , West Virginia

Two families are faced with incredible heartache, after a nine-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 10-year-old friend.

Payton Thomas was just 10 years old, having her first sleepover with a nine-year-old friend, who staying with his grandparents in Quick. Family members tell us around 5 p.m. Sunday, Payton's mom called to check-in, and Payton said she was having a lot of fun and for her mom not to worry. About a half hour later, she was accidentally shot in the arm and chest by her friend and died from her injuries early this morning. Now her family is an emotional wreck, and angry at the adult they believe is responsible.

Lindsey Huffman is heartbroken that her 10-year-old niece Payton is gone. She says Payton was just a great kid--a beautiful little tomboy who loved playing outside...

"We all sat there until 2:25 this morning until she lost the fight. Everybody was pretty well out of their minds, wore out and exhausted. Everybody's supposed to go to my mom's tomorrow and exchange gifts. It's just not going to be the same now. It's just horrible. She's got presents sitting under people's trees, and what do you do with them?" said Huffman.

Huffman couldn't understand how Payton could get shot, let alone how she and her nine-year-old friend could get a gun. So she went to Pentacre Road where it all happened, and the nine-year-old's family told her the boy apparently had tried to take a shotgun from his grandpa's house earlier that night and got caught.

"But the boy snuck it again, and they were walking down the road and the little boy said the gun misfired. Payton was walking behind him so it shot her," Huffman said.

And while the family's overcome with grief, they're also angry, and insist it all could've been prevented.

"Me and my husband, our entire family, her mom and dad, we're all gun advocates. We all believe in our amendments. Even now, her parents don't blame the gun. It's the negligence of the owner. Because after a child did it once, he could've just simply taken the gun and we wouldn't be burying our baby," said Huffman.

Now Huffman just hopes her family's loss is a wake-up call for everyone to practice good gun safety.

"If you cannot be a responsible gun owner, then don't own any. Unload your gun and put it up out of reach," she said.

Family members are hoping to establish an account to help Payton's parents pay for funeral expenses.

There's no word on if an autopsy will be done, and funeral arrangements are pending.

Meanwhile, deputies have ruled the shooting as accidental but they will give all the evidence to the Kanawha County prosecutor, who will decide if any adults will be charged.



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