MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis father has been indicted by a grand jury. Cordero Wilhite is accused of leaving his loaded gun out, which lead to the death of his 8-year-old. Wilhite was charged with reckless homicide in 2017.
This year alone there have been 24 similar shootings where a child has gotten a hold of a loaded gun, left out and either killed or injured another person, according to Safe Tennessee Project, which focuses on gun related injuries and gun violence in Tennessee. Of the 24 shootings, 12 have happened here in Memphis.
Since 2015, the organization has tracked 35 negligent-storage shootings in Memphis alone. Across the state there were 112.
“This idea that parents have that they can hide a gun from their children leads to tragedy time and time again. Kids are curious. Kids find things,” said Beth Joslin Roth with Safe Tennessee Project.
In August 2017, investigators initially reported that 8-year-old Deaundre Shannon accidentally shot and killed himself. Police later determined his 4-year-old sister shot and killed him with a gun she found hidden under the covers in the bed, according to the Shelby County District Attorney’s office.
Their father, 30-year-old Cordero Wilhite, is now indicted on reckless homicide charges for his son’s death.
We spoke with Deaundre’s grandmother one day after his tragic death.
“It is very devastating to lose your child or grandchild like that over something negligence,” said Rosetta Fitzgerald in 2017.
Safe Tennessee Project found not all gun owners are charged after similar shootings.
With the help of Sen. Sara Kyle, Makayla’s Law is being reintroduced in the next legislative session, pushing to change the wording in the reckless endangerment statue to hold gun owners accountable for these crimes.
“We don’t even refer to these types of shootings as accidental shootings because the word accident sort of has a connotation that it was something that couldn’t have been prevented,” said Roth.
Roth says it’s a preventable crime that starts with secure storage of all weapons. Free gun locks are always available at all Memphis police precincts.
Wilhite was also indicted Wednesday on a felony drug charge after police found more than a pound of marijuana in the bedroom.