LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A 7-year-old boy was shot in the head by a stray bullet from a nearby fight as he played on his iPad and ate cake at his kitchen table, police said, leaving a grieving grandmother and the governor of Kentucky decrying the senselessness of random gunfire.
"They call themselves men, but men don't go around shooting somebody over petty stuff," Tonya Hobbs Gough said by phone Monday, a day after her grandson was shot when an outdoor fight escalated into gunfire near his home in Kentucky's largest city.
"You're not a man," she added bitterly. "You're a child if you've got to use a gun to do anything."
No arrests had been made in the death of Dequante William Lamar Hobbs Jr. Police and the boy's family pleaded for information from any witnesses.
"We had a 7-year-old who fell victim to the senseless violence that's going on here in our city," said Louisville Metro Police spokeswoman Lt. Emily McKinley. "If this doesn't wake anybody up, then I don't know what will."
The boy's death is the 49th homicide investigated in Louisville this year, police said. The murder pace is ahead of last year, when 40 murders had occurred by the same date, according to police records. The department investigated a record 118 homicides in 2016, The Courier-Journal reported.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin took to Facebook to condemn the boy's death and the record-setting homicide rate plaguing Louisville.
"These kids should have an expectation that they can sit safely in their own home without being killed by random gunfire," he said.
"We've got a huge cultural problem here in Kentucky, we truly do. And in America for that matter. The lack of appreciation for human life, the disregard for human life from beginning to end, is becoming increasingly evident as we see people who use guns as toys, guns as a way of expressing their emotion and their anger at things."
The Republican governor, a strong supporter of gun-ownership rights, said he planned to announce a "solution" next week to combat urban violence, but offered no details Monday.
"It has nothing to do with spending more money," he said. "It has nothing to do with more police on the streets. It has everything to do about engaging you as members of our communities."
Dequante's grandmother, who knew the boy as "Q," blamed Louisville's rising homicide rate on guns ending up in the wrong hands.
"It's just senseless recklessness," she said. "Reckless people and having guns. That needs to stop."
The fight that led to her grandson's death broke out in the backyard of a nearby home Sunday night, police said. Someone pulled a gun and began firing. The boy was at his kitchen table munching on a bedtime snack of leftover cake when the bullet pierced a window and hit him.
Relatives in the home did CPR until police and EMS arrived. Nobody else was injured in the shooting. Dequante was pronounced dead at a hospital.