Mom Makes Unbelievably Kind Request for Man Who Killed Her 4-Year-Old Girl

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target practice

"Don't let (the man) get in trouble, it was an accident." This was the third thing that a mom said after discovering her 4-year-old daughter had been shot in the head during a terrible accident last October. The first two things she said were: "This can't be real" and then, "why?," which are a lot more understandable in such a sudden, heart-shattering event like this, which came so out of the blue. Just a normal day visiting a friend, helping to paint a headboard in the yard. Her daughter and another girl playing at a neighbor's.

But it's because of the mom's (odd? compassionate? humane?) plea for the 24-year-old man living at the house -- one she repeated to police again during the investigation -- that "no charges" are being filed against him in the death of little Zoie Dougan.

Who can say what any of us would think if we were in that mom's shoes at the time -- but thinking of the welfare of the shooter, no matter how accidental she believed his actions at the time -- would not typically be one of the first 50 things going through my mind in a time like this. I'd be convulsing with grief, praying to God with every fiber of my being, over my little girl lying there bleeding. It would take me a long time to be able to think clearly enough to come to a conclusion like that. No matter how well I knew them, whether they were family or not.

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The man admitted to being irresponsible in his choice of target shooting locations -- a pile of garbage marked to be burned. He was aiming at a bottle through his rifle sight preparing to shoot at a bottle, something you do before you prepare to hunt to make sure everything is working the way it should, and pulled the trigger -- never seeing little Zoie running by on her way to a swing set.

The man was visibly distraught and upset after the incident, say the cops. It sounds like it really was an awful, unintentional tragedy. But still one involving bad judgment and one that could have been avoided. Some things can be forgiven without cost, but what about when a choice ends the life of a child? Perhaps in this case, the guilt and self-torment of knowing he's responsible really is punishment enough.

Should the family's wishes have sway with police in tragedies involving children?


Image via ButterflySha/Flickr

crime, death

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Julia Saenz

So a man looking through a SCOPE for TARGET practice shoots a tiny child point blank in the head and all everyone can say is opps?!?!?! WTF

Kattey Kattey

I loath when people call the shooting deaths of children (whether by an adult, another child, or themselves) an accident. It's not an accident. It's gross negligence. An accident is tripping on a shoelace or knocking something off a table, not discharging a weapon.


This dude needs jail, and if I wish we could lock people up for idiocy so we could lock mom up too.

nonmember avatar dad

In forensics and popular usage, "point-blank range" has come to mean extremely close range (i.e., target within about a meter (3 ft) of the muzzle at moment of discharge but not close enough to be an actual contact shot). Also, it was noted that the girl was running to a swing set. The man was aiming at a stationary target. If he intentionally shot her, he would have "led the target", something you would not do in stationary target practice. All of the facts are not present in this article, but one can glean from those presented, with use of enough basic common sense, that this was indeed an accident. The fact that the mother recognized this in the moments following the tragedy shows that she was thinking with a clear mind despite her grief and loss, which is not something a great portion of people would be able to do.

IHear... IHeartCake

No, the circumstances and law have to determine whether charges will be filed, because it's unfair to treat people differently who have done the same, or similar, things (not that I think our justice system is fair.) 


No one should be out shooting guns for fun, anyway, in my opinion, and if you do, you better take responsibility and face the consequences, if you shoot someone.

nonmember avatar Sam

First of all, there IS such a thing as accidentally shooting somebody. If you're aiming at a target and someone runs in front of you right as you shoot, it is an accident. You didn't chase them with the gun. You didn't aim the gun at them. It's a case of wrong place, wrong time. I can attest to this because my first year of deer hunting one of the men in our group put his arm directly in front of my gun and if I hadn't realized it was that close I would have accidentally shot him. Mind you, that's a grown, 40+ year old man. Not a four year old child. Second, the only time you could possibly think guns should not be shot for fun is when you are against gun ownership, which is your business. People shoot at targets all the time, and it's fun when you're not out hunting. But hunting, just like any other activity, takes practice. Again, back to the point that this was a freak accident and I'm sure this man is already feeling the full force of what has happened. Should he be punished the same as somebody who sets out to hurt or kill another person? No.

abra819 abra819

um.....no. Lock him up.

jamor... jamorrall

What does locking him up solve? The child will still be dead. He doesn't sound like a criminal. Sometimes bad things happen. I don't think he should be without punishment, however does jail solve anything here?

talkt... talktojonell

Over 30 years ago my two year old cousin was accidentally shot to death by another cousin who was 18 or 19 at the time. He punished himself for YEARS nearly destroying his life. It is pointless to add to tragic situations when they are accidents. It doesn't serve anyone and doesn't equal justice.

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