COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A central Ohio family said it has learned its lesson after one of the children in the house got hold of a gun.
No one was hurt, but family members hope their experience helps others and makes the city safer.
The 13-year-old boy, his older sister, and their mother all take responsibility for what happened and want to share their story so other children and families don’t end up in a similar position.
Hannah Everett is extra thankful this holiday season to have her children by her side.
“I could have gotten multiple other phone calls than the phone call I did,” she said. “Thank goodness my children are still standing here.”
She’s also thankful someone saw something and said something. Earlier in the fall, her son Xavier Bernard went to a trunk or treat hosted by the non-profit group Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children. Someone at the family-friendly event spoke up, telling founder Malissa Thomas St. Clair they saw a gun in the boy’s waistband.
“It’s good to know we actually have a concrete example of how powerful see something, say something can be,” St. Clair said.
Her first thought was, "Why here, why now," but Xavier handed her the gun and she called police. The gun Bernard had taken belongs to Everett, which he took without her knowing.
“I’m infuriated and it's just not OK,” Everett said. “This is a prime example of how easy it is, accessible, granted, I take partial blame for it as well.”
Bernard said he had the gun on him because of an incident the day before which worried him and, overall, didn’t always feel safe in the city.
“Don’t hang around with the wrong people,” he said when asked how to make children feel safer.
Bernard now calls what he did a horrible decision, thankful it ended the way it did. His message for others who might be in similar situations: “Don’t do it. It’s a bad decision. You will end up on the wrong path.”
The incident was a learning experience for both Bernard and his mother.
“Keep your weapons locked up and away from children,” Everett said. “If you have children in the home, make sure they cannot access it freely because this situation could have ended very badly not only for myself and my children but for other people and their families as well.”
“This is the last photo of me and my son,” St. Clair said. “This is me no longer hearing a heartbeat of my son. I don't want this to be your mother.”
Everett’s daughter also takes partial responsibility for the incident because she knew Everett had the gun but didn’t speak up. Looking back, she now realizes she should have handled the situation differently.
Everett said the gun is still with law enforcement and that’s by her choice.