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Six-year-old girl killed by brother in accidental shooting

Maliyah Palmer (Photo courtesy of the Parkway School District)

FLORISSANT, Mo. – A six-year-old died Friday after being shot by her older brother inside their Florissant home.

According to Officer Steve Michael, a spokesman for the Florissant Police Department, the shooting occurred around 10:55 p.m. in the first block of Holly Lane.

The girl, identified as Maliyah Palmer, was found with a single gunshot wound to her head and rushed to a local hospital where she later died.

Police learned Palmer and her 12-year-old brother were being watched by their 16-year-old sister at the time of the shooting. The 12-year-old found a 9mm pistol in a dresser drawer in their parent’s bedroom.

The 12-year-old accidentally fired the gun, Michael said.

According to our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, police will continue their investigation and turn their findings over to the St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for possible charges.

Palmer was a student at Green Trails Elementary School in Chesterfield. Principal Rene Summers sent the following letter to the families of all students over the weekend:

Dear Green Trails Families,

I am writing to share some tragic news. Friday evening, one of our first grade students, Maliyah Palmer, died from what the family reports was an accidental gunshot wound. Maliyah was a student in Mrs. Ellinger’s classroom. It is difficult to find the right words to convey this information, but necessary so that we all work together to support this family, our students, staff, and community.

Staff was made aware yesterday afternoon. The district will be supporting us by sending additional counselors and social workers to school first thing Monday morning. In addition, we are working with Annie’s Hope – The Center for Grieving Kids. We will meet as a staff before school to process and discuss how we will share this news with students in an age appropriate way. Our goal will be to keep the day and routine normal. We will share the news honestly and openly so that understanding, processing, grieving and healing can begin.

You know your child best, so we are hopeful you will be the first person to tell your child about Maliyah’s death. I have included some tips below:

– Do be available. Show support, listen, encourage questions, and validate the child’s feelings.

– Don’t use euphemisms. Equating death with sleep, “passing” or “going away” can cause confusion. It can also cause the child to be anxious about falling asleep or loved ones leaving on trips.

– Some younger children will have difficulty with the concept that death is permanent.

– Do be straight with a child. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.

– Don’t overwhelm the child. Often children need simple facts, not long explanations.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any staff member with questions or concerns. Annie’s Hope is also available: 314-965-5015 http://www.annieshope.org

Please keep Maliyah’s family in your thoughts and prayers.

With appreciation,
Rene Sommers

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