11-year-old dead, 12-year-old boy charged after shooting in Garden Hill

A 12-year-old boy has been charged with negligence causing death and careless use of a firearm after an 11-year-old boy was shot dead on a remote northern Manitoba First Nation in what the chief of the community called a tragic accident.

Boys found improperly stored gun while playing, according to Island Lake RCMP

The northern Manitoba community of Garden Hill is about 476 kilometres north of Winnipeg. (CBC)

The chief of a remote northern Manitoba First Nation where a 11-year-old boy has died after being shot by his 12-year-old friend called the death a "tragic accident."

"Everybody's pulling together. They're helping each other," Garden Hill Chief Dino Flett said of the community's response in wake of the shooting Tuesday. "It's a tragic accident."

The 12-year-old has been charged with negligence causing death and careless use of a firearm. The boy's father, who is 36 years old, will be charged with careless storage of a firearm, RCMP said. Both have been released from custody.

Flett said the boy who is charged was friends with the boy who died. He said the accused is known as a well-behaved student.

"He's a child that listens to everything the teacher says," Flett said. "He has perfect attendance at school. He wasn't anything like a child that's being reckless or anything."

Police were first called around 7:30 p.m. CT Tuesday by someone at the Garden Hill Nursing Station who reported that a boy in the community, which is about 476 kilometres north of Winnipeg, had been shot. 

Island Lake RCMP officers went to a home in Garden Hill where they found the 11-year-old with life-threatening injuries. He later died. 

During the RCMP investigation, they discovered that three boys — one 12-year-old and two 11-year-olds — were playing in the home when they found an improperly stored firearm. While the 12-year-old was handling it, the gun discharged, police allege.

Elders and mental-health support workers have been brought in to help Garden Hill's students cope with the tragedy, Flett said.

He said friends and family are helping the victim's relatives.

RCMP Sgt. Paul Manaigre said the incident has devastated the families involved.

"It's a tragic incident that unfortunately brings to light the issues that we like to stress, that people need to secure firearms in a residence," Manaigre said.

Flett said there were a lot of questions when the news of the shooting first broke but said he's not aware of any resentment toward the accused and his family.

"Everybody asks, 'Why. Why did this happen?'" Flett said.

"We're just waiting for information."