Shooting of Kayla Rolland
May 12, 1993|
Mount Morris Township, Michigan, United States
February 29, 2000 (aged 6)|
Mount Morris Township, Michigan, United States
|Cause of death||Cardiac arrest from shooting|
|Resting place||Pine Grove Cemetery, Millington, Michigan, United States|
|Known for||Child school shooting victim|
Kayla Rolland (12 May 1993 – 29 February 2000) was an American 6-year-old girl from Mount Morris Township, Michigan, who was murdered on February 29, 2000. Rolland was shot and killed by her classmate Dedrick Owens, also 6-years-old, at Buell Elementary School in the Beecher Community School District. The murder drew worldwide attention due to the particularly young ages of the victim and the perpetrator: Rolland was the youngest school shooting victim in the United States until the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, and Owens remains the youngest school shooting perpetrator to-date. Owens could not be legally charged for murder because of his age. Buell Elementary School closed in 2002.
Dedrick Darnell Owens (born on May 5, 1993) was a 6-year-old first grader at Buell Elementary School in the Beecher Community School District, located in Mount Morris Township near Flint, Michigan. Owens' father was in jail for violating parole, having previously been convicted for possession of cocaine "with intent to deliver," and had been living with his mother Tamarla, a drug addict, and his eight-year-old brother. His mother was evicted from her home, and the two boys then moved into their uncle's house, where they shared a single sofa as a bed. The home was a crack house operated by his uncle and a 19-year-old man where guns were frequently traded for drugs, and at some point Owens had found a loaded Davis Industries P-32 .32-caliber handgun under some blankets.
Owens was known to have behavioral problems, and was made to stay after school nearly every day for saying "the F word," flipping people off, pinching and hitting. Some weeks before the shooting he had stabbed a girl with a pencil. Chris Boaz, a seven-year-old classmate, claimed Owens once punched him because he would not give him a pickle. Owens had attacked Kayla Rolland before and, on the day prior to the killing, tried to kiss her and was rebuffed. Early on the morning of the shooting, Owens and his brother got into a fight with Boaz's 10-year-old uncle, who punched Owens, and according to Boaz's grandmother said "Do you want me to take my gap [sic] out and shoot you?"
On 29 February, 2000, Owens had brought the firearm, along with a knife, with him to school. Further in the day, during a change of classes, Owens fatally shot 6-year-old Kayla Rolland in the presence of a teacher and 22 students while they were moving up a floor on the stairs, saying to her: "I don't like you", before pulling the trigger. The bullets entered her right arm and travelled through a vital artery. At 10:29 a.m. EST, Rolland was pronounced dead at Hurley Medical Center while in cardiac arrest. Owens then threw the handgun into a trash basket and fled to a nearby restroom. He was found there, in the corner, by a teacher and was taken into police custody soon after. He was held in custody until the Genesee County Family Independence Agency could determine his placement. He and his two younger siblings have since been placed with an aunt.
At six years of age, Kayla Rolland is believed to have been the youngest school shooting victim in United States history, which was not surpassed until the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012. Dedrick Owens became the youngest school shooter in the United States, and the legal claim that at that age he would lack the ability to form intent, he was not charged with the murder. In most U.S. states, six-year-olds are not liable for crimes they commit, and the Genesee County Prosecutor Arthur Busch called on the citizens to collectively hug the boy presumably out of pity and sympathy. In an 1893 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that "children under the age of 7 years could not be guilty of felony, or punished for any capital offense, for within that age the child is conclusively presumed incapable of committing a crime." This is followed in many U.S. states.
Jamelle James, Owens' uncle who owned the .32-caliber pistol used in the murder, eventually pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter and spent two years and five months in prison before he was released on probation. The other adults involved would be in and out of court systems in the years to follow. A search of James' house produced a loaded pump-action shotgun and a rock of crack cocaine.
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