Man Accidentally Shoots Boy, 4, Dead, Police Say—'Don't Play With Guns'

Police in Arlington, Texas have urged people not to play with guns after a 4-year-old boy was shot and killed during a New Year's Eve celebration in the city on Friday morning.

Investigators say the boy, Messiah Taplin, was shot by Zantyler Foster-Hooks, who has been charged with manslaughter. Officers responded to a 911 call reporting sounds of gunfire at around 12.30 am on January 1, according to CBS 11.

The caller also reported that several people had been seen carrying a bleeding child. Police later established that Foster-Hooks and three other adults who had been celebrating the new year brought Taplin to a hospital in Grand Prairie after the shooting.

Entering the unit in the apartment complex, police found nobody there but, in a press release, described finding a "crime scene inside the apartment."

While police were at the scene, a vehicle with two adults arrived. It matched the description earlier given to police. The vehicle's occupants allegedly tried to evade the officers, but were eventually questioned to establish what had happened. The other two adults reportedly remained at the hospital. Officers also spoke to them.

The Arlington Police Department has made an arrest in connection to the shooting death of 4-year-old Messiah Taplin.  
This afternoon, 21-year-old Zantyler Foster-Hooks was booked into the Arlington City Jail on one count of Manslaughter.

— Arlington Police, TX (@ArlingtonPD) January 1, 2021

Police said that two men and two women, including Foster-Hooks, were in the apartment dancing and celebrating the new year when Foster-Hooks pulled out a gun. The weapon went off and a bullet hit the 4-year-old Taplin in the head.

Foster-Hooks originally told police that the bullet had been fired into the apartment from outside and had shattered a glass door, but police determined this was a lie based on physical evidence and witness statements.

Foster-Hooks was later brought to Arlington City Jail and charged with manslaughter. He maintains that the shooting was an accident. His bond has not yet been set.

The exact relationship between the adults and the child was unclear on Friday.

"What makes this case so hard [is] number one — it's a child," Arlington police Lieutenant Chris Cook told CBS 11.

"Number two — it's preventable. It's so sad that we have these conversations each and every year, reminding folks don't discharge fire arms don't play with guns. It's a lot of responsibility when you own and possess a firearm."

The City of Arlington has been contacted for comment on this article.

An Arlington Police Badge Honoring Dallas Police
An Arlington police officers badge honors the Dallas police departments fallen officers during the Interfaith Memorial honoring the Dallas shooting victims at The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on July 12, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. Arlington police have urged people not to play with guns. Gary Miller/WireImage