Cops: Sanford girl, 6, dies after handling gun, shooting herself

Erik Dominick Williams, 35, lives at the home where the shooting happened. WESH TV images

SANFORD, Fla. — Investigators are looking into the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of a 6-year-old girl Tuesday night.

Sanford police were alerted by Central Florida Hospital that a child with a gunshot wound had been brought in to the hospital around 8:30 p.m.

Late Wednesday morning, police identified the victim as A’letha Amanii Marie Burke.

According to police, she suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder while handling an unsecured firearm that accidentally discharged.

School officials said A’letha attended Wicklow Elementary. Grief counselors were at the school Wednesday morning.

Crime scene investigators spent hours at the scene of the shooting on Highlawn Avenue in Sanford, which is near Seminole High School.

Erik Dominick Williams, 35, who lives at the home where the shooting happened, was arrested on suspicion of child neglect causing great bodily harm and the unsafe storage of a firearm.

Police said Williams knew the firearm was stored without any safety mechanisms under the sofa near where A’letha was left to play. Police have not released details about the relationship between

Williams and A’letha, other than to say she was in his care at the time of the accidental shooting.

“It is time for parents, guardians, and the community to step up and do our part to protect our children,” Police Chief Cecil Smith said. “Last night’s tragedy was careless, senseless, and entirely preventable.”

A free gun safety class will be held at the Sanford Police Department on March 9 at 4 p.m. for parents and children. The class will address current safety concerns regarding firearms and children in the community.

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