Melissa Ann Ringhardt Charged After 5-year-old John Read Shoots Himself With Her Gun

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
October 23, 2013 Updated: October 23, 2013

Melissa Ann Ringhardt has been charged with abandoning or endangering a child after a 5-year-old boy in her care died when he apparently shot himself with her gun.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office says a judge on Wednesday arraigned 19-year-old Melissa Ringhardt of Vidor (VY’-dur) and set bond at $250,000.

Investigators say Ringhardt was baby-sitting John Read in his Vidor home on Monday when he accidentally shot himself.

Authorities say Ringhardt, who was arrested Tuesday, was living with the Read family and the parents were gone during the shooting. The couple’s 6-month-old child was also at the residence but wasn’t hurt.

Ringhardt had been living with the family for the past several months.

Ringhardt told authorities she was afraid to be home alone and left her pistol on a table when she took a nap.

The pistol was a semi-automatic .40 caliber pistol.

When Ringhardt awoke, she looked for child, and found him in the living room with a fatal gunshot wound.

Ringhardt carried both children to their grandparent’s house to get help, reported 12 News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.