SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A Seminole County Judge is holding a babysitter for 24 hours before his family can try and bail him out. Erick Dominick Williams is being held at the Seminole County Jail on charges of child neglect, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and not having a firearm stored properly.
Sanford Police said 6-year old A’letha Burke found a .45 caliber gun under the living room sofa Tuesday night. Investigators said Williams was babysitting the little girl that night.
FOX 35 spoke with Williams’ mother, Rosalind Williams, who showed up to his first appearance Thursday afternoon and said he’s innocent and that wasn’t his gun. “He’s an innocent person. They said he was the babysitter; he’s a lovely babysitter,” she said.
His family says they are angry over all the charges he is facing. Williams' mother said he was babysitting Burke, the daughter of his fiancée's sister, the night the gun went off. Investigators said the bullet entered the girl’s right shoulder, traveled through her torso, and exited through her right buttock. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. We asked Rosalind if she had anything to say to the victim’s family and responded, “Accidents happen.”
Thursday afternoon, the judge gave the 35-year-old unemployed suspect a $15,000 bond on the child neglect charge, a $5,000 bond on the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon charge, and $250 on the charge of unsafe storage of a firearm. However, the defense attorney argued there’s no evidence to prove it was his client’s gun.
“You have a statement made by the defendant that since there was a gun you may have made a mistake by not securing it, assuming he even knew it was there. They asked him that after the fact. If the police officer would have said did you put that gun there or is that your gun and he said yes I would sit down and shut up,” the state attorney stated during the first court appearance.
Whether or not the gun was Williams, the judge stated Williams was responsible for watching the little girl. As a convicted felon, it's illegal for him to have a gun. His mother said the gun was never his and has no idea where it came from.
“I’m bringing him home,” Rosalind told us after we asked her what she plans to do next. “I’m bringing him home with me. He’s coming home with me.”
The judge said he will hold Williams for 24 hours before allowing him to post bail. His next court appearance will be April 5 on the child neglect and unsafe storage of a firearm. He will be arraigned on his third charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on April 26 at 1:30 p.m.
This is a second time in a week a child in Sanford has found and fired an unsecured gun. Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said, because of all this recent gun violence, his department has created a specific task force to target violent crimes and get more guns off the streets.
“The incident involved with the young lady could’ve been preventable if the weapon had been secured properly,” said Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith of Burke's death.
Chief Smith has decided to hold a gun safety seminar next week at the department. It will be on March 9 at 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Then on April 17, the department will do a “gun buy back.” The location is being worked out right now. “The purpose of this is so we can get the illegal guns off the street, we get the guns that are no longer wanted in the household,” said the chief. “This is our effort trying to make the community safe.”
The little girl’s death comes just a month after hundreds gathered to rally against gun violence in the community. Sanford Police has also created a task force that will deal with violent crimes directly. That force includes their Neighborhood Response Unit (NRU), the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Seminole County’s Attorney’s Office, and the US Attorney’s Office. The police chief is also working to get some violent crimes federally prosecuted.