‘Heartbreaking': 14-year-old, adult charged in shooting death of 5-year-old girl

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The community is stunned, police are frustrated and a family is heartbroken after a 5-year-old girl was shot and killed Wednesday night in northeast Charlotte.

Officers were called just before 9:30 p.m. to the Maple Run Apartments on Elgywood Lane near North Tryon Street, in the Hidden Valley neighborhood.

Authorities have not said how the shooting happened but told Channel 9 that the girl, identified as Amani Barringer, was taken to a local hospital where she died.

Police said two teenagers, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, were in the apartment at the time of the shooting. On Thursday morning, CMPD said the 14-year-old was charged with involuntary manslaughter. It is unclear what the relationship is between the teen and the girl.

Officers also charged an adult who lives in the home, Tayoka Lindsey, with failing to secure a firearm to protect a minor.

Officers on the scene were visibly upset and CMPD Maj. Ryan Butler didn’t hold back his frustration about the violence Charlotte has seen this year.

“This morning, there was a 5-year-old girl who got up and had breakfast and played. And now, that 5-year-old girl is not with us anymore,” he told reporters. “And I don’t have a good explanation. And I know when I finish with my briefing you all are going to have questions on why and who and what, and what I can tell you is this -- that none of that matters in a sense that, regardless of what caused it, there’s a 5-year-old little girl who’s not alive right now.”

Police were interviewing neighbors throughout the night, trying to determine what led to the shooting.

The child’s death was Charlotte’s 84th homicide of 2020.

“Sometimes this gets paraphrased: Police are pleading for people to help. I’m not pleading for anything. I’m asking for cooperation. I’m asking for people to participate in the investigation and the closure I would like to provide for the family as a whole,” Butler said. "I’ve gotten to the point where I’m tired of coming in front of you. This is the fourth homicide I’ve been to this week and asking for people to care. I can talk until I’m blue in the face ... If you don’t have an emotional response about a 5-year-old little girl who is shot in the neck and now deceased, I can’t part that humanity upon you.”

Neighbors Channel 9 spoke with said that regardless of how the shooting happened, the bottom line is that an innocent life was taken.

“It’s senseless and upsetting, and not something typical we see here,” said neighbor Kat Koppel-Dobbs. “It’s full of families, so seeing this is upsetting, especially this close to home."

Butler stressed that the girl’s death needed to be a wake-up call for the community after so much violence this year.

“There are a lot of things that go on in this country and the world -- this is happening in our city,” he said. “I don’t care of you live in a different part of Charlotte, work here, or telecommute here. If you are involved in the Charlotte area -- live and work -- you have got to care about this.”

Former CMPD Assistant Chief Vicki Foster said situations like this are some of the most difficult cases to investigate.

“I think that is one of the hardest things an officer has to do. Granted, there are a lot of things officers are involved in that pull at the heartstrings, but when it is a child, it is a very, very difficult situation,” Foster said.

Leaders, including Mayor Vi Lyles who put out a tweet, are pleading for people to use gun locks.

“It is so important. It is not expensive, and it is something that everybody should have -- all of their guns locked at all times and put away. And I think we can’t drill that in enough,” Foster said.

The company that operates the apartment complex issued the following statement on Thursday:

“We are saddened about the tragic death of a 5-year-old child that transpired on Wednesday evening on September 9th. Both our corporate office and site staff are cooperating with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Investigation. We have made the apartment unit available and offered any assistance needed by investigators to bring a quick resolution to the case and closure to the family.”

This is an ongoing investigation.

'May God be with them’: Community stunned after 5-year-old girl shot, killed

Neighbors said they were stunned after 5-year-old Amani Barringer was killed in a shooting at a northeast Charlotte apartment complex. Many said they are trying to understand how they can help and what can be done to keep tragedies like this from happening in the first place.

Neighbor Kat Koppel-Dobbs said she isn’t thinking about anything else but the moments she witnessed following the shooting death of the little girl.

“I just heard somebody saying, ‘Where’s my baby?’” Koppel-Dobbs said.

As a teacher, she said her students aren’t much older.

“I was just thinking about she just started kindergarten for the first time and that was really upsetting for me to think about,” she said. “It’s just a mess. It really is.”

Sharon Allen has lived in Hidden Valley for seven years. She said while crime does happen in the neighborhood, nothing compares to the loss of a child. She and Koppel-Dobbs believe this tragedy could have been prevented.

“Guns, guns guns. I wish they’d put them all in a box and burn them,” Allen said.

“I hope in the future we can get a better handle on that so things like this, where kids have access to guns and we have tragic loss of life, can stop,” Koppel-Dobbs said.

Yolian Ortiz works with the property group that owns the complex where Amani’s family lives. She said they’re hoping to help them however they can.

“They’re going through enough,” Ortiz said. “We want to make sure this family has someone in their corner.”

'Sometimes I get mad’: Senseless murders force children to navigate life without their parents

Some of the homicides we see every year involve adults who are parents to young children. Now, those children are navigating life without them, and the trauma can really impact their future.

Channel 9 shared the story of Kyle and Zarrie. They’re growing up without both of their parents.

Alisa Mackey was shot and killed during a domestic violence situation with her ex in 2015. That ex turned the gun on himself, dying by suicide.

Kyle and Zarrie now live with their grandmother and have been through extensive therapy to help them cope with the trauma of losing both of their parents.

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