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Texas Child Shoots Self With Gun, Baby-Sitter Jailed

ORANGE COUNTY, Texas -- Nineteen-year-old Melissa Ringhardt is in the Orange County Jail and is charged with endangering a child.

This arrest came after she told authorities she left a gun accessible to 5-year-old John Allen Read whom she was baby-sitting Monday. A gun he used to fatally shoot himself.

Kevin Clark is a neighbor to the boy's parents, Kayla and Joe Read.

"They were completely just destroyed, naturally," Clark said.

John Allen Read's death left many questions.

"How this child get this weapon?" Chief Deputy Clint Hodgkinson said. "Where did it come from?"

John Allen and his six-month-old sibling had been left in the care of the 19-year-old Ringhardt. Investigators say she took the family's gun out of a safe.

"We do know there is a gun in the house and she was able to get the gun," Hodgkinson said.

Ringhardt told authorities she got the gun because she felt unsafe home alone.

She had already had the pistol on her throughout that day and had set it down on the coffee table, then went down to take a nap. That's when the John Allen grabbed the gun and fatally shot himself. Ringhardt found him dead in the living room.

Ringhardt was arrested Tuesday afternoon.

"She just looks calm at this point," Hodgkinson said. "I don't know if it's a state of shock or what this kind of somber state on her. She just seems very calm."

She's at the Orange County Jail, where authorities say she's cooperating.
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