Video games are being blamed over a tragedy in Louisiana last week, which saw an 8-year old boy fatally shoot an elderly woman. The boy, who has not been identified, was reportedly playing Grand Theft Auto IV in the lead-up to the shooting.
An official release from the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Department explains that the pair had a “normal, loving” relationship – Marie Smothers was 87 years old. Reports claim she was his primary caregiver, and a relative – although specific details are suppressed to shield the boy’s identity.
The boy initially told authorities that he was “playing” with the firearm, but further investigations have lead police to believe the shooting was intentional. The woman was shot in the back of the head while watching television. She died at the scene from a single shot from her own Colt .38-calibre Detective Special revolver.
The link to the video game comes through the same Sheriff’s department statement:
Although a motive for the shooting is unknown at this time investigators have learned that the juvenile suspect was playing a video game on the Play Station III “Grand Theft Auto IV”, a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people, just minutes before the homicide occurred.
The television was reportedly turned off when police arrived to investigate, but detectives report the PlayStation 3 was still on, and held a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV. The game, which is being described in news reports as “notoriously violent”, is rated M for Mature in the United States, and recommended for gamers aged 17+.
Under Louisiana law, the 8-year old cannot be identified – but he also cannot be charged with a crime, even if the shooting is found to have been intentional. Children under the age of 10 years are “exempt from criminal responsibility”.
The boy is now staying with his parents.