About 4 p.m., Columbia County Sheriff’s Office investigators responded to a home in the 100 block of Keener Street, near downtown Harlem, to assist Harlem Public Safety in the investigation of a shooting. The victim, Ellie Kelly, of the 6200 block of Otis Way in Harlem, was found shot once in the face while three other people were inside the one-story brick home, sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
The shooting is being ruled accidental, Harlem Public Safety Director David Sward said.
Information surrounding the cause of the shooting won’t be released until the investigation is complete, he added.
“We’re still trying to get all of our facts straight, but we do know she wasn’t shot on purpose,” Sward said.
Kelly was airlifted to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where she is being treated, Morris said. Because Kelly was admitted with a gunshot wound, hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Scott said she was unable to release the girl’s condition per hospital policy.
The boy, whose name is not being released, was charged with reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a person under 18. He was transferred to the Regional Youth Detention Center, Morris said.
A .38-caliber handgun was found in the home, he said.
Both the sheriff’s office and Harlem Public Safety will continue to investigate the case.
William Cox, 15, who was standing outside the home as investigators combed through the crime scene, said he didn’t know Kelly well but added she is “pretty nice.” Cox, an eighth-grader at Harlem Middle School, said Kelly is in the seventh grade at the school.
Columbia County school board member Mike Sleeper said both Harlem Middle and North Harlem Elementary schools were placed on lockdown Thursday but didn’t want to speculate why. Sleeper said the school board will release a statement today.
This is the second time in 14 months that a Harlem girl was shot by a teenage boy. In January 2011, Alana May Calahan, 14, was fatally shot inside her Miles Road home. Her 15-year-old friend Lacy Aaron Schmidt was convicted of her murder Feb. 10 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
It’s also the second time this week a youth has been charged with shooting another child.
On Monday afternoon, 10-year-old Hunter Morris was fatally shot at a neighbor’s home in Plantation Acres Mobile Homes. A 12-year-old boy has been charged in connection with the shooting, which the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has said appears to be accidental.
Staff Writers Barry Paschal and Garth Snow contributed to this article.