On Sunday evening, a 14-year-old girl in Mississippi was shot and killed by her younger brother following a dispute over video games. Authorities believe the 9-year-old boy became angry when his sister refused to give the video game controller back to him. He reportedly went into another room in their house, retrieved a .25-caliber handgun from a nightstand, and fatally shot his sister in the back of the head.
The girl has been identified by police as Dijonae White, a student at Tupelo Middle School. Following the incident, White was taken to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, where she passed away around 6:45pm on Sunday night. White's mother was reportedly in the kitchen at the time of the incident, feeding three or four of her children. As of this report, police aren't certain how the young boy knew about the handgun or its whereabouts, but the weapon allegedly belonged to the mother's live-in boyfriend. It's not immediately clear if the boy knew about the potential danger or consequences of his actions.
The case echoes a number of high-profile incidents over the years involving video games and violence. In 1990, an 11-year-old named Cameron Kocher reportedly shot and killed a girl who lived in his neighborhood after a fight over Nintendo's "Spy Hunter." In 2007, an Ohio teenager named Daniel Petric allegedly shot and killed both his parents after they confiscated his copy of "Halo 3". Earlier this year, 28-year-old Matthew Nicholson shot and killed his mother after a fight over a video-game headset.
According to Sheriff Cecil Cantrell, the case falls into hazy legal territory considering the unidentified boy's age. "There’s a lot of difference between a 9-year-old and a 19-year-old,” he said, suggesting the crime would show intent if had been committed by an adult. “Between a 9-year-old and a 6- or 7-year-old, there’s not a lot of difference.”
"The juvenile court will be in charge of what happens with him at this point," Cantell told The Clarion Ledger. "I think this is new ground for them, also."
Cantrell isn't sure whether the boy meant to kill or even hurt his sister. "In my opinion, kids watch video games where they shoot each other and hit the reset button and they come back to life. It's not like that in the real world. I’m not saying that’s necessarily what happened, but kids now are different than what they were when we were growing up."
Because of the boy's age, Cantrell says investigators would be taking the investigation slow. "I’m not too fast to say anything because there are juveniles involved. We want to do what’s right and we’re going to get it right."
The news comes on the heels of President Donald Trump's plan to "do something" about violent video games following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
"We have to look at the Internet," Trump said at a White House meeting this February, "because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed, and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it."
He continued: "I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts."
Despite Trump's assertions, researchers have been unable to find a direct link to video game violence and mass shootings.