Toddler Dead After Responsible Gun Owner Leaves Loaded Rifle In Daycare
October 29, 2015

You see, it's different in rural areas! We hunt! We fish! We're responsible gun owners who have a culture of respect! What's all the shouting about?

CRAB CREEK - A local man has been charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a 2-year-old girl at his home Monday.

James Fuller Stepp, 31, of Golden Eagle Way, turned himself in to authorities Monday night, the Henderson County Sheriff's Office said.

Stepp was not present at the time of the Monday morning shooting that claimed the life of Abagail Newman, according to a recording of a 911 call made to report the shooting, but a woman on the call said a shotgun was on the table in the home and she had not realized it was loaded. She said the shotgun belonged to her husband.

"In no way are we trying to indicate ... that (Stepp) was pulling the trigger," said Maj. Frank Stout of the Sheriff's Office. He said Stepp is the husband the woman referred to in the 911 call.

Abagail did not live at the home but was being cared for by someone there at the time, Stout said Monday.

He said Tuesday the investigation is continuing and more charges are possible. Stepp posted a $5,000 bond.

"Based upon the tragedy of this event, there are people we have not been able to speak to yet. ... People are not in the condition to even speak" because of their grief," he said.

District Attorney Greg Newman said the charge is because a death occurred and it occurred "as a result of some negligent action."

"These folks didn't intend for this to happen," he said.

Stout declined to discuss how the shooting occurred. It happened at the home on Golden Eagle Way, off Crab Creek Road and near the Valley Hill Fire and Rescue station.

A woman can be heard on a recording of a 911 call saying, "One of the guns was loaded on the table and I didn't know it. A little girl was shot."

The gun belonged to her husband, the woman said. Three other children were also in the home, ages 7 and 3 years and 4 months, the woman said on the 911 call, which was made a little after 9 a.m. Her name was not released.

The woman on the call said the girl had been shot in the neck and was still breathing.

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