NEW ORLEANS -- The autopsy of the 5-year-old killed Sunday shows she died from what the Orleans Parish coroner’s office believes to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, authorities said Monday morning.
The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office, meanwhile, says it will screen the case of Laderika Smith, the mother, using “ordinary procedures” regardless of what the New Orleans Police Department charges her with, an official said. Smith was charged with relative cruelty to a juvenile after being arrested Sunday.
Brandajah Smith was home alone while her mother went to the store. When Laderika Smith returned home, her daughter was lying on the bedroom floor, shot in the head, investigators said.
Just before 11 a.m. Sunday morning police were called to a home on the 2200 Block of Galvez Street. Inside officers found the little girl lying on the bedroom floor, shot in the head with a .38 revolver.
"I am very shocked and just devastated that it happened in my family," said Smith's cousin Veranda Williams. "It's very saddening."
"She was a sweet, beautiful little girl. All kids are good no matter what. But she didn't deserve this," said Smith's cousin Danielle Carter.
Family members say the gun belong to friend and was just temporarily being kept on the top shelf of a closet.
"You have to think first if you got kids in the house, anything can happen. Kids do climb and things do happen," said Williams.
As the rest of the family copes with a life cut to short, they say they have message for others.
"It's hard when kids are involved," said Carter. "I fully believe that every parent that has a gun keep it out of kids reach and keep them on a safety and a lock."
According to police records, this is not the first time police have arrested Smith. Since 2005, Smith has been arrested three different times for crimes including theft and prostitution.
--Eyewitness News reporter Katie Moore contributed to this report.