The Port Arthur News
A 5-year-old Vidor child is dead after accidentally shooting himself in the head after his baby-sitter allegedly left a .40 caliber gun within reach before taking a nap on Monday.
The baby-sitter, who is identified as Melissa Ringhardt, 19, is being charged with abandoning or endangering a child which is a state jail felony.
The child, identified as John Read, was with a baby-sitter at his home in the 1200 block of Roberts Road when the incident occurred at about 2:45 p.m. Oct. 21.
Ringhardt had been living in the home for the past few months, according to a press release from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. On Monday, Ringhardt was left in the home with the 5-year-old and another child, age six months. She reportedly told investigators that she was carrying a .40 caliber handgun on her person in the home that day because she was scared of being at the home alone.
She reportedly left the handgun on a coffee table in the living room and went to the bedroom to take a nap. When she awakened from her nap, she noticed that she didn’t see John Read, the 5-year-old, around the house. She began looking until she found him deceased in the living room with a fatal gunshot wound. The 6-month-old was not harmed. She then carried both children to the grandparent’s home on the next block to get help.
The preliminary investigation appears to be that the shooting was accidental.
Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 Judge Price was summoned to the scene. An autopsy was ordered and the child was transported to the Jefferson County Morgue.
Investigators were able to obtain an arrest warrant for Ringhardt. She was located about 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22 at an address in the 1600 block of Willowbend in the Vidor area. She was arrested without incident. Bond has not been set.