Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said yesterday that his office is considering criminal charges against the parents of a 4-year-old boy who fatally shot his 5-year-old sister with a semiautomatic handgun, even as the family mourns the girl's death.
"We understand the family must be grieving and, yes, that's something we consider," Ivey said in an interview. "At the same time, we've got some legal obligations. Parental accountability is a point of emphasis for us, especially when it comes to making sure kids don't get their hands on loaded weapons."
The 4-year-old boy used the loaded .45-caliber weapon to fire one shot Saturday night, killing Kimberly Brice, 5, and wounding their 7-year-old brother, Gregory Thigpen Jr., in a neighborhood blocks from FedEx Field. The eldest child in the home, a 10-year-old girl, had tried to shield the other two children from harm, police said.
The parents, Gregory Thigpen Sr. and Jennifer Brice, who were not home at the time, could face charges related to the firearm or to leaving the children unsupervised, Ivey said. The law forbids leaving a child younger than 13 in charge of younger children, according to the state's attorney's office.
"We haven't ruled anything in or out. We want to wait until the police complete their investigation," Ivey said. He said the investigation should be completed soon, but did not specify when.
A family spokeswoman told Washington's WUSA-TV that a friend of the father had dropped off a bag of clothes before the shootings, and that the gun was inside the bag.
Ivey declined to comment on the report. Neither the state's attorney nor county police would discuss the continuing investigation into who owns the weapon and how the boy got it.
The elder Thigpen has had problems with the law. He is charged in an outstanding warrant with driving with a suspended license and failure to appear in court, according to District Court records.