Kristen Burnett, 13, was pronounced dead about 11:15 p.m. in her home in the 5000 block of Reynolds Way, Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said.
A 14-year-old boy, who was not identified, is charged with involuntary manslaughter for accidentally shooting her with a shotgun, Grovetown Department of Public Safety Capt. Donovan Jones said. He’s being held in the Regional Youth Detention Center.
“It’s carelessness with a firearm,” Grovetown Chief Gary Owens said. “These kids are friends. There’s no maliciousness. It is just a senseless tragedy.”
Burnett and three friends were hanging out at her house, Collins said. The victim’s mother, Miriam Lunsford, was not home and her stepfather, Steven Lunsford Jr., is an Army soldier deployed to Afghanistan.
The 14-year-old boy went looking through the house and found a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with double-aught shells in the master bedroom.
“She was sitting in a chair in the dining room at her laptop,” Collins said. “She was struck in the head by the projectiles from the shotgun.”
The boy “accidentally discharged” the gun in the den and hit Burnett in the dining room 22-25 feet away, Jones said.
“If there’s a firearm at the house, it needs a gun lock on it,” Collins said. “It’s so inexpensive when it comes you your child’s life or anybody’s life.”
The investigation is ongoing, Owens said.
Grief counselors were at Grovetown Middle School on Thursday to help pupils deal with Burnett’s death.
“Our heart goes out to the family and the school children,” Owens said.