north charleston police (copy)

One day after a young girl was fatally shot at a North Charleston residence, police have stated they believe it was another child who pulled the trigger.

Officers responded around 3:30 p.m. Monday to 2811 Ranger Drive, according to an incident report. Once at the scene, they found the young girl "covered in blood" and lying on her back on the living room floor. She had suffered an apparent bullet wound to the chest.

The Charleston County Coroner's Office identified the girl Tuesday afternoon as 6-year-old Zy'Ashia Smalls.

Zy'Ashia died at 4:13 p.m. Monday at Medical University Hospital of a gunshot wound, the Coroner's Office stated.

Information provided to The Post and Courier by North Charleston police prior to Tuesday afternoon indicated that Zy'Ashia was 5 years old; however, the Coroner's Office determined her age was actually 6. 

At least three other children, including a 12-year-old boy believed to have shot the girl, were inside the Ranger Drive residence at the time of the incident, police said.

No adults were in the home, North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said Monday, and no charges have been announced in the investigation, which is ongoing. The circumstances surrounding the shooting remained unclear Tuesday.

North Charleston police maintained Tuesday that the shooting was believed to be accidental.

Although police in their report referred to the boy as a "suspect," Pryor said in a statement that "it’s procedural that any person that commits an offense would be listed as the suspect, criminal or non-criminal."

"The designation 'suspect' in this case does not indicate that this is being investigated, at this time, as anything other than an accidental shooting," Pryor added.

Zy'Ashia's death marks at least the second instance this year in which a Charleston County child was injured or killed as a result of an accidental shooting. Before that, two others in South Carolina have been recorded so far, both in Greer, near Greenville.

In February, North Charleston police said a 6-year-old boy shot his 1-year-old brother, injuring him. Following the shooting, the boys' cousin, Redante Young, 37, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon.

Nationally, South Carolina is among states with the worst rates of child deaths caused by gun violence, The Post and Courier has reported. 

The Washington, D.C.-based group Gun Violence Archives, a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks gun violence across the country, noted 72 instances of children killed or injured nationally in January and February of 2019. 

South Carolina finished 2018 with 20 incidents when children under age 12 were shot, according to the archive group. Fifteen of the youths died.

A vigil for Zy'Ashia is planned at 8 p.m. June 18 on Ranger Drive. 

Gregory Yee contributed to this report. 

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Reach Michael Majchrowicz at 843-937-5591. Follow him on Twitter @mjmajchrowicz.

Michael Majchrowicz is a reporter covering crime and public safety. He previously wrote about courts for the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts. A Hoosier native, he graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.

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