ROCKWOOD, Tenn. (WATE) — A Rockwood family is grieving after a 4-year-old girl was shot and killed over the weekend.
According to redacted warrants, Evangaline Gunter was shot and killed on Sunday in a home on Airport Road. The 4-year-old and another child were told to stand in the corner because they didn’t follow the rules according to the warrant.
Breanna Runions, 25, told investigators she called Evangaline over to teach her gun safety. She told police she removed the magazine, held the gun in front of Evangaline’s chest and pulled the trigger. Evangaline was taken to a local hospital and later pronounced dead.
Josie Gunter, Evangaline’s mother was called to the hospital.
“The person taking care of my daughter was banging on her door telling me to get myself to the hospital,” Josie said.
Runions has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Evangaline was in the temporary custody of another adult according to her mother.
“I feel like it’s my fault that I let her be there,” Josie said. “I should have been more attentive. I wish I could have been a better mother for her to pay attention. It was a court order decision.”
Her parents describe Evangaline as having the brightest smile, but it’s her hugs that Josie will miss most.
“She would bring a smile to anybody’s face,” Adam Gunter, Evangaline’s dad, said. “You looked at her, she would brighten your day.”
“Her hugs were so full of life,” Josie added. “That’s the one thing I’ll miss the most is her hugs and her smile.”
Evangaline’s birthday was just days away. She was going to turn 5 years old.
“I had bought her about a hundred to $150 worth of birthday gifts already,” Josie said.
Her parents said Evangaline wanted to be a cheerleader.
“She wanted to be a cheerleader so bad,” Josie said. “That little girl was cheerleading before she could even walk.”
Evangaline’s family now hopes justice will be served.
“I hope they give her life without parole, I really do. I hope they give her life without parole,” said Larry Gunter, Evangaline’s grandpa.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services released a statement saying, “This is a heartbreaking situation. The department has an open investigation and will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners in this case.”