Boy, 4, Killed in Accidental New Year's Shooting in North Arlington: Police

Medical examiner's report says child driven nearly 10 miles to a hospital in South Grand Prairie after being shot in North Arlington

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Arlington police charged a 21-year-old man with manslaughter after a 4-year-old boy was accidentally shot and killed shortly after midnight while celebrating the new year.

According to Arlington police, gunfire was reported at an apartment complex on the 700 block of Washington Drive, near Collins Street and Lamar Boulevard, at about 12:36 a.m. and a caller reported seeing two people leave the complex with a child that was bleeding.

When officers arrived, they spotted a trail of blood leading into a residence. They entered the unlocked apartment and found what was described as a "crime scene," however no one was inside.

A short time later, police were notified by officers in Grand Prairie that a 4-year-old boy had been taken to a hospital there and that the child died of an apparent gunshot wound to the head.

Police confirmed to NBC 5 Friday afternoon that they interviewed four adults, two who were at the hospital and two who returned to the apartment after leaving the hospital, who told police they were in the apartment at the time of the shooting.

Lt. Christopher Cook with the Arlington Police Department said Friday afternoon one of the adults told police initially that the bullet was a stray that had entered the apartment from the outside through the sliding glass door.

"We were able to debunk that story and determine based upon the ballistic evidence at the scene that that round did not enter through the apartment window," Cook said. "There was damage to that apartment window, but it was previous damage."

Cook said one of the occupants later told police they were celebrating and dancing inside the apartment, they had a gun out and it accidentally went off and struck the child in the head.

"Again, another tragic case, certainly preventable," Cook said.

Information released by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office identified the child late Friday morning as 4-year-old Messiah Taplin, of Corsicana. The medical examiner's office confirmed the child was shot in the head at the Residence at Arlington apartments and was taken nearly 10 miles away to Baylor Scott & White Emergency Hospital in South Grand Prairie where he died at about 1:15 a.m.

No further details were released about who was holding the gun when it went off, or the relationship to the child.

Later Friday, police charged 21-year-old Zantyler Foster-Hooks with manslaughter and booked him into the Arlington City Jail.

Zantyler Foster-Hooks, 21.
Arlington Police Department
Zantyler Foster-Hooks, 21.

Police did not reveal the relationships between the child and the adults in the apartment but did say that he lives there. They added that the child's biological mother lives outside of the area and was not present when her son was shot.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Charles Cisneros at 817-575-3169. Tipsters can also remain anonymous by contacting Tarrant County Crime Stoppers at 817-469-TIPS.

Telemundo 39's Emilio Ramos contributed to this report.

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