11-year-old killed in accidental shooting in Casa Grande

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 2 at 11:07 PM

Map: Near Gila Bend Hwy & Ethington

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CASA GRANDE, Ariz. -- An 11-year-old is dead after she was shot by another 11-year-old in what Pinal County sheriff's deputies are calling a tragic accident.

It happened at about 8 p.m. Thursday at a home in a rural area just southwest of Gila Bend Highway and Ethington Road. There are only two other homes in the area.

According to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Joan Plumb was at her home with a female friend at the time. Her 15-year-old brother and an 11-year-old boy who lives in the neighborhood was there as well.

While the girls were scrapbooking in the family room, Joan's brother was showing the 11-year-old his new .22-caliber rifle.

Joan's big brother left the room, but before doing so, he removed the clip from the weapon and set it on the table.

The 11-year-old boy picked up the rifle and was handling it when it went off. Joan was shot in the head.

Joan's father was in a back bedroom. He ran out as soon as he heard the shot. He tried to help his daughter while telling the other kids to call 911.

Joan was rushed to Casa Grande Medical Center. From there, she was flown to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where she later died.

Joan's mother and her oldest sibling were not home at the time of the shooting.

Detectives and deputies with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office were at the home all night, finally wrapping up the on-scene portion of their investigation at about 5 a.m. Friday.

A neighbor told 3TV's Tess Rafols Joan had a rough start in life. According to Carol Stewart, who has lived in the area for years, Joan was a foster child until her parents adopted her several years ago.

"She went through so much before she got adopted," Stewart said. "She was just a sweet little outgoing girl."

Stewart, who had nothing but good things to say about Joan and her family, also told Rafols that the kids had been around guns and had been taught about firearms safety and proper weapons handling.

“This horrible tragedy is a reminder of the importance of gun safety," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said. "Weapons should be secured in a safe place at all times and they should always be treated as if they are loaded.”

It's not clear if any charges will be filed. Sheriff's spokeswoman Tamra Ingersoll said the case will be submitted to the Pinal County Attorney's Office for review once the investigation is complete.

Casa Grande is about an hour south of Phoenix.

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