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14-year-old charged with shooting, killing 11-year-old cousin in Vicksburg, police say

Police say the children were playing with a gun they found in a closet.
Published: Jun. 8, 2021 at 10:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 12:41 PM CDT
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VICKSBURG, Miss. (WLBT) -A 14-year-old in Vicksburg is charged with shooting and killing his 11-year-old cousin, according to police.

Thomas Hardman, 14, of Vicksburg, is charged with manslaughter-culpable negligence for the shooting death of Rashawn Wilbert, 11. (Police originally said Hardman was charged with second-degree murder, but that information was inaccurate.)

Investigators say Wilbert and two other children were playing when they found a gun in a closet. At some point, VPD says Wilbert’s 14-year-old cousin shot and killed him.

The incident happened inside a home on Elizabeth Circle around 8 p.m. Tuesday. Wilbert died from a gunshot wound to the upper torso area, police say.

Hardman appeared before Judge Allen Derivaux in Vicksburg Municipal Court on Wednesday. His bond is $150,000.

Neighbors on Elizabeth Circle say they are shocked and saddened.

“I don’t want to release the caliber of the weapon they were playing with the gun. The 14-year-old fired one shot which hit the 11-year-old,” said Lt. Johnnie Edwards, Vicksburg Police Criminal Investigation Commander. “This is very unfortunate. I hate these kind of cases.”

“He will face a manslaughter charge because it wasn’t any malice or anything that he has against his little cousin,” he also revealed. “Because this is a manslaughter case, we have to present it to a grand jury.”

This is the second deadly shooting in two weeks involving children who found guns.

Over in Canton, police say a 2-year-old girl found a gun in the car and accidentally shot and killed her 9-year-old brother. Police say the children were left in a car while their parents visited a relative inside a home.

“If you have guns in homes, unload those weapons and please secure them and put them in a location and out of reach,” Edwards advised. “If you can, put the bullets in another location. This is another way to keep the kids from getting hold of them because if they get a hold of them, they want to see what they will do.”

This deadly shooting is the first homicide of the year in Vicksburg.

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