News from around the state of Texas

Babysitter Charged After Boy Dies of Gunshot Wound

Boy fatally shot himself with 19-year-old Vidor woman's handgun

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 5
    Investigators say 19-year-old Melissa Ringhardt brought a handgun with her because she was scared of being home alone.

    Authorities in Southeast Texas are charging a babysitter with abandonment after a child in her care fatally shot himself with her handgun while she was napping.

    Orange County Chief Deputy Sheriff Clint Hodgkinson said Tuesday that 19-year-old Melissa Ringhardt was babysitting a 5-year-old and 6-month-old in a home in Vidor, about 90 miles east of Houston.

    The sheriff's office told NBC News that Ringhard, who lives with the boy's family, left her semiautomatic .40-caliber handgun on a coffee table while she took a nap in a bedroom. When she awoke, she found the 5-year-old boy dead in the living room with a gunshot wound, the sheriff's office said.

    Ringhardt then carried both children about a block to her grandparents home to call 911, NBC News reported.

    The home they were in did not have a telephone.

    Authorities said Ringhardt had the handgun with her because she was scared of being home alone.

    Ringhardt will be charged with abandoning or endangering a child, a felony. She's being held pending bond.

    If convicted, she could face six months to two years in prison.

    Ringhardt did not have a listed phone number.