HANAHAN, S.C. (WCSC) - The mother of a 10-year-old girl shot to death earlier this month faces two charges in connection to the accidental shooting, which Hanahan Police said was “totally preventable.”
Cabriya Lucas was fatally shot on the evening of Oct. 5 at a home in the 5800 block of Robinson Street, investigators say.
The mother of the child, Bernadette Owens, was arrested on Oct. 9 and charged with two counts of unlawful neglect of a child, according to Hanahan Police Chief Dennis Turner. She has since bonded out on a surety bond of $80,000, $40,000 for each count, according to court records.
Turner said their investigation determined the child was accidentally shot by another child in the house. The incident report listed an 11-year-old boy, whom it did not name, as a “suspect.” Turner said the 11-year-old is the victim’s brother.
Investigators say Owens left a loaded firearm easily accessible by the children in a common area of the home. An affidavit states the gun was stored in a laundry basket on the floor of Owens’s bedroom.
“The children got the gun, they were in essence doing what kids do,” Turner said.
Police said they would not pursue charges against the child in Lucas’s death.
“This is a very hard investigation that we’ve had to work on this, one of the hardest ones I can tell you that I’ve worked in my 20 plus year career, and I can speak the same for my staff,” Turner said. “Let’s say it, it’s just senseless. If you own a firearm, please be responsible with it. Use a gun lock, a trigger lock, a safe, whatever, because this was something that was totally preventable. But unfortunately, it’s happened.”
Attorney Mark Peper, who is representing the family, released a statement Wednesday on behalf of the family:
“The family is heartbroken by the tragic loss of young Cabriya, and also extremely concerned about how this tragedy will affect her older sibling moving forward. To that end, they hope the public will continue to pray for them and respect their privacy moving forward.”
At Wednesday’s news conference, authorities addressed concerns they say had been raised on social media as to why the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was called in to investigate.
“We’re actually mandated by the state to notify sled anytime we have a child death, with the exception of automobile accidents, and in natural death where there are no doctor’s care,” Berkeley County Coroner George Oliver said. “SLED actually sends a child fatality investigator agent to assist us.”
Hanahan Police responded to the home at approximately 10 p.m. in reference to “a 911 open line,” an incident report states.
“Dispatch advised sounds of a disturbance could be heard in the background,” the report states.
When Oliver released Lucas’s identity, he said the manner of death was homicide, but police had been tight-lipped about the investigation prior to announcing Owens’s arrest Wednesday.