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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 21st October 2016 > Babies Killing Babies

Babies Killing Babies

As Latasha Dyer and her two daughters pulled up to their cramped trailer, she spotted her son, Dallas, on the park lot. He knew it was against the rules to play outside when no one was home, and since he was her oldest child, Dyer expected the 14-year-old to set a good example for his sisters, so she sent him to his room.

It was early evening, October 3, 2015, and the weather was starting to cool. Dyer, 30 and fairskinned, with three stars tattooed on her right foot, followed Dallas inside. The young girls hung back on the lot, a small, grassy expanse in a rural east Tennessee town called White Pine. She went through her clothes and then put on a long-sleeved shirt that said “Property of Jesus.”

Around dinnertime, the mother heard a blast, and then her 11-year-old, Katie, came barreling through the trailer. “The boy shot MaKayla!” she screamed. “The boy shot MaKayla!”

Dyer ran toward the door, passing a wall decorated by her three children, who had dipped their hands in paint and pressed them there. The smallest prints belonged to MaKayla, Dyer’s mischievous 8-year-old daughter. She loved to wear plastic tiaras and play in the dirt, hated shoes and was not much fonder of school.

When Dyer stepped outside, the lot was still damp from rain. She found MaKayla lying in the mud, dying. She dropped to the ground and hugged the child to her chest.


Later, she learned what happened. An 11-yearold neighbor, Benjamin Tiller, had asked to see the child’s new puppies, Buddy and Spaz. When she said no, he went and grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun, aimed it out the window and pulled the trigger. He shot MaKayla in the chest, just above her heart.

It had not been hard for Tiller to get the gun. The weapon belonged to his father, and the boy had found it right where he thought he would, stored in an unlocked closet, loaded.

Unprosecuted Murders

YOUNG CHILDREN shoot themselves, other kids and adults with stunning frequency in America. Between September 1, 2014, and September 1, 2016, a child under the age of 13 was the perpetrator in at least 300 acts of gun violence, resulting in 102 deaths and 198 injuries, according to data provided by the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit.

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