Clovis News

NE Fresno girl killed by brother, 2, mourned

The 6-year-old northeast Fresno girl who was accidentally shot and killed Sunday morning by her toddler brother is survived by six brothers and sisters, her father said Monday.

Jason Lavender of Clovis said he wasn't yet ready to talk about his daughter Emily, a first-grader at Maple Creek Elementary School. Emily was identified Monday afternoon by the Fresno County Coroner's Office as the shooting victim.

Meanwhile, Fresno police were mum on their investigation into the shooting.

Police were called to a home on the 8500 block of North Boyd Avenue in northeast Fresno just after 11 a.m. Sunday, where they learned that Emily's 2-year-old brother had entered a bedroom carrying a semi-automatic handgun and shot her.

Investigators have been trying to figure out where the toddler found the handgun and why it was not secured, Fresno police Sgt. Stephen Viveros said Sunday.

Along with the semi-automatic handgun, officers found and seized other weapons from the home. Five children ages 2 to 15 lived in the home.

California law requires that weapons be kept out of the hands of children; parents and other adults who allow children access to guns can face felony charges.

Police have not named the guns' owner but previously said he was the dead girl's father. However, Lavender, who does not live at the home where the shooting occurred, said Monday he was Emily's father.

Fresno police would not comment regarding the discrepancy.

Maple Creek Elementary, the school attended by Emily and three of her siblings, is preparing for an emotional day today as students and teachers grapple with the girl's death.

"This is a tragedy that has stricken another Maple Creek family," Principal Gina Kismet said. "Each of her siblings' classrooms will be feeling the loss."

Emily is the third Maple Creek student to die in five years. A team of grief counselors will be available for students today, Kismet said.

Around the family's quiet neighborhood, many were shocked to learn of the young girl's death.

Neighbor Lena Aparicio, whose daughter Rebecca is a kindergartner at Maple Creek, said the incident was heartbreaking.

Said Aparicio, "As someone who has a young child, my heart goes out to Emily's family."