An official at the Hillsboro Department of Public Safety said charges and arrests were likely after officials said they believe a 15-year-old girl was shot in the head while sitting in her living room playing a video game.
Jayla Riggs, an 8th grade student at Hillsboro Intermediate School, was shot by a 17-year-old family member on Dec. 30 around 9:40 p.m. inside the family home in the 1000 block of East Walnut Street in Hillsboro, according to police.
The family of Riggs say she was a beautiful, smart fun loving girl, who loved to play soccer and be a kid.
"She always singing, dancing and twirling," said aunt Jeri Menchaca. She was all over the place. She was happy and loved her family."
Riggs was taken to Hill Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by Justice of the Peace Charles Jones, who ordered an autopsy be performed in Dallas. The results have not yet been made public.
The 17-year-old relative was interviewed by police but released pending further investigation. He said he did not know the gun was loaded when he accidentally fired it, according to the Hillsboro Department of Public Safety.
Menchaca exclusively told Channel 6 that the gun was not a gun that belonged to anyone inside the home. She says the mother of Riggs does not like guns.
"Guns never produce anything for her. Guns can be good in a controlled environment with people who are experienced and trained, but the gun was the biggest shock to her." said Menchaca.
Interviews with witnesses who left the scene before officers showed up were conducted on Tuesday, according to authorities. Police said they intended to conduct more interviews with family members and witnesses before they present a case to the Hill County District Attorney's Office.
"Anytime an incident happens when a person lose their life is tragic," said Hillsboro Detective Jose Orozco. "But when it's a child it makes it that much more worse, especially because I have to visit the family and see how devastated about the incident.
Police also expressed their “heartfelt condolences” to Riggs' family and friends.
“We ask all to please treat every firearm as it is loaded, and individuals under the age of 21 should not possess handguns,” the Hillsboro Department of Public Safety wrote in a statement Friday. “If a firearm is present, leave and call an adult or police at once. Should an incident occur with a firearm, all should remain at the scene and do not disturb the scene until an inquiry can be conducted by law enforcement.”
Counselors will be available at Hillsboro ISD through the upcoming week.
Anyone with information about her death should call Detective Orozco with the Hillsboro DPS Criminal Investigation Unit at 254-582-8406.
A balloon release for Riggs will be held Monday at 5 p.m. at Hillsboro Jr. High.
Riggs' Funeral is Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Methodist Church in Hillsboro.
To donate to Riggs' funeral expenses, click here.