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December 03, 2007
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Ill. deputy's daughter fatally shot at home

By Dennis Sullivan
Chicago Tribune
Related: Guns and Kids

CHICAGO, Ill. — The 4-year-old daughter of a Cook County sheriff's deputy was killed early Sunday after she and her 15-year-old brother were handling a gun in the family's Chicago Heights apartment, police said.

It's not clear if the gun is the mother's service firearm.

Investigators questioned the brother about the 5 a.m. shooting at the three-flat apartment in the 400 block of West 15th Street.

David McDermott, a criminal defense attorney retained by the family, called the shooting "nothing short of an accident." As of Sunday night, no charges had been filed.

The teen and his sister Jaylnn Hall "were handling a gun which is kept in the apartment, when the gun went off striking the victim once in the chest," a police statement said.

Officers arrived at the building at about 5:40 a.m. and found Jaylnn facedown on the landing between the first and second floors, police said.

The girl was pronounced dead shortly before 6 a.m. at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights.

"In all likelihood it was the same weapon the mother has for her job," said McDermott, who declined to name the mother.

He said the weapon was a 9 mm handgun.

McDermott dismissed as "a coincidence" any connection between Sunday's early morning fatality and the teen's previous arrest for bringing a gun to school.

He said the teen brought the gun to school in response to threats.

"He was a child trying to protect himself," McDermott said.

"It's safe to say he's never fired a gun before," he said.

Marqus Beaver, pastor of the Living Grace Church in Lynwood, said the teen has been active in the basketball program since June "and was baptized two weeks ago."

The family also includes a 19-year-old daughter.

Services are pending at Living Grace Church, 201st Street and Lakewood Avenue, Lynwood.

Copyright 2007 The Chicago Tribune

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