CMPD buys 800 gun locks for community after 5-year-old’s accidental shooting death

CHARLOTTE — Five-year-old Amani Barringer was playing in Charlotte’s Hidden Valley neighborhood on Sept. 9 when a 14-year-old accidentally shot her.

Amani died from her injuries.

[PAST COVERAGE: ‘Heartbreaking’: 14-year-old, adult charged in shooting death of 5-year-old girl]

She is one of 42 children that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said has been injured or killed this year due to an unsecured firearm -- which equals last year’s total.

Community groups approached police about gun locks, and the two sides came together Wednesday with a new approach.

>> In the video at the top of this webpage, Channel 9 speaks with Amani’s family about how easily the tragedy could have been avoided.

Family, friends and even strangers gathered outside Amani’s elementary school Wednesday night to remember the little girl, and their message was clear: Lock up your guns.

It’s a similar message to the one CMPD issued the night Amani tragically died.

Dozens of people came together for an emotional vigil Wednesday at Hidden Valley Elementary School. Wearing Amani’s favorite colors of pink and green, they prayed and released balloons in her honor.

With tears in her eyes, the girl’s mother spoke publicly about what the last week has been like.

“She is an angel and I didn’t understand, but the Lord already knew and I still need a little understanding, but at the end of the day, just from seeing my baby today, the Lord needed her more,” she said.

Amani was one of 42 children CMPD said has been hurt or killed this year because of an unlocked gun. Outraged community groups approached the police department and CMPD agreed to purchase 800 gun locks. The United Neighborhoods of Charlotte is giving them out to anyone who needs one.

“To those who have guns around Charlotte, we’re not asking a whole bunch of questions about where you got your gun from or who you are,” said Charles Robinson, and anti-violence activist. “The thing I’m telling you is it’s time to lock those guns up because it’s too many babies that we’re burying. Too many babies on t-shirts and we simply can’t have that anymore.”