Child shootings, deaths in region involve unsecured guns: A family calls for action

Colorful flowers, plastic eggs and Easter bunny toys and figurines decorate the grave of Jared Green Jr., who is buried on a grassy hill in a cemetery in Hamilton.

Jared died last year 10 days before Easter after he shot himself in the head with a gun that belonged to his mother’s then-boyfriend, Benjamin Bishop, who left his firearm on a windowsill, in easy reach of the 3-year-old boy.

Bishop, an ex-Centerville police officer, is going to spend the next seven years in prison because of what happened to “Little Jared,” but that’s cold comfort for the toddler’s family members and loved ones, who are struggling to cope with what they describe as immense and immeasurable grief and loss.

Jared was one of at least 10 young children who have been injured or killed in shootings that were deemed accidental in the region in the last several years, an analysis by this news organization found. This includes two incidents that occurred last month in Harrison Twp. and St. Clair Twp. in Butler County.

Most of the cases have something in common: The firearms used in the shootings were loaded and were not kept under lock or key or someplace out of the reach of children.

Firearm injuries have become the leading cause of death of Americans ages 1 to 19 in the United States, and a study released last year suggested that the vast majority of guns used in fatal accidental shootings involving kids 14 and younger were loaded and were not locked up.

Michelle Rodriguez, Jared’s grandmother, said Ohio needs Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws, which require gun owners to store their firearms in safe and secure places where children do not have access to them.

“I would love to see our lawmakers do something about CAP laws,” said Rodriguez, as she fought back tears while discussing the death of her grandson. “No grieving family should have to ask them to do what they know is right.”

She continued, “I am so fricking sick and tired of being told that it was an accident. I am so fricking sick and tired of being told, ‘Well they went through enough.’ No, I’m sorry ... they should be accountable for not locking up their firearm.”

A number of cases

Last month, a mother and her fiancée were indicted after a 22-month-old boy accidentally shot himself in the head at a Harrison Twp. home.

The boy suffered a deep wound above his eyebrow that exposed part of his skull, and officials said they do not know if he will recover the full use of his left eye. The bullet came very close to piercing the boy’s skull.

His mother, 24-year-old Rashaunda Faye Rogers, initially told medics and sheriff’s deputies that the boy hit his head on a metal table, but she later admitted to investigators that he accidentally shot himself with a gun that was kept unsecured on the floor under the bed, says the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

Officials say the mother was not legally permitted to have a gun.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Sadly, accidental shootings involving children are somewhat common in southwest Ohio.

Rogers and her fiancée were indicted by a grand jury one day after a 13-year-old boy reportedly shot himself on the 2400 block of Jackson Road in St. Clair Twp.

In April 2023, a 4-year-old boy was injured when he shot himself in the stomach with his brother’s gun at Jacot Park in Middletown.

His 27-year-old brother, Yvonte Glover, left the loaded handgun in between the seats of his SUV.

In June 2022, 2-year-old Amorie Jetton Bell shot himself in the head in a house on the 700 block of Goodlow Avenue in Dayton and died a couple of days later. A coroner’s report ruled that the manner of death was an accident.

On Aug. 21, 2021, a 3-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in an apartment on Bloomfield Drive in Trotwood, according to a police report.

His mother, then 23 years old, told police she was carrying a Glock pistol on her hip but she put it on her bed when she went to use the restroom and that’s when her son grabbed and fired the gun.

A 2-year-old boy was shot in the chest at a home on Gant Dive in Harrison Twp. in March 2021 while in the care of his mother, Allysa Howard.

Authorities said it appears the boy accidentally shot himself while his mother was sleeping next to him.

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Credit: Montgomery County Jail

Six-year-old Georgevoine Campbell died in June 2020 after shooting himself in the head with a relative’s gun he found in a home on Royal Drive in Springboro.

A 3-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the leg in Riverside in January 2020. Police said the boy apparently was playing with his father’s gun that he found in a home on Eubanks Drive.

No place for a gun

A study published last summer in the journal Injury Epidemiology found that nearly 92% of firearms that were used in deadly accidental shootings involving kids under the age of 15 were kept loaded and unlocked.

These estimates were for cases in which there was information available about how the guns used in the shootings were stored.

The study looked at cases of kids unintentionally killing themselves or other children.

The study found that more than four in 10 of the shooting victims were younger than 5 years old, said Nichole Michaels, the senior author of the study, who is the principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

Parents and relatives may try to hide a gun in a shoebox or a closet or under the bed or mattress, but kids are really curious and resourceful and these are not safe places to store deadly weapons, Michaels said.

Kids so young that they still wear diapers or so young that they don’t have the ability to spell words may have the strength to pull the trigger on a firearm.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Very young kids sometimes treat guns like toys. Older kids might understand that firearms are dangerous but they still want to play around with the weapons they find or show them off to other kids.

Nearly two-thirds of deadly accidental shootings involving younger children occur at the victim’s homes, and in more than 80% of cases the firearms were owned by a relative of the shooter, the study found.

In 2021, there were 2,571 child deaths due to firearms — a rate of 3.7 deaths per 100,000 children, according to Brady United, a group that advocates for tougher gun laws.

Prosecutors say accidental shootings involving children usually are preventable and often arise because of criminally reckless conduct by adults.

After his brother shot himself, Yvonte Glover was convicted of attempted improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle and he was sentenced to two years probation.

Allysa Howard pleaded guilty to a felony charge of endangering children after her son was shot. Police said they found drugs in her bedroom and she may have been intoxicated at the time of the shooting.

Rashaunda Faye Rogers faces charges of endangering children, tampering with evidence and having weapons while under disability. She was a fugitive from justice and was not legally allowed to have a gun.

After Georgevoine Campbell died, his father, George Campbell, was charged and convicted for having weapons under disability and he was sentenced to three years of community control (probation).

Safe storage laws

Everytown says an estimated 54% of gun owners do not lock up all of their firearms securely. The group says secure storage practices play a vital role in reducing the risk of gun violence.

Some gun-rights groups say they strongly support securing firearms, but they say people’s situations vary and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to safe gun storage that will work.

The Institute for Legislative Action, the lobbying arm of the NRA, says gun owners should store their firearms in a responsible manner. But the group says there’s already plenty of state laws on the books that prohibit reckless behavior with firearms around children.

“CAP laws that attempt to limit when children can possess firearms under adult supervision infringe on parental rights and the right to keep and bear arms,” the NRA-ILA said. “The best way to create safe and responsible future firearm owners is for parents to pass on safe firearm handling habits to their children.”

Buckeye Firearms Association supports safe use and storage of firearms, but it opposes mandating storage rules and punishments through legislation, said Dean Rieck, executive director of the Buckeye Firearms Association.

“As with most other activities, we believe education is the best way to raise awareness for better safety practices,” he said. “Beyond a certain point, laws are ineffective at changing human behavior.”

Both the NRA and Buckeye Firearms Association testified in support Ohio House bill 186, which would exempt firearms safety devices from state and local sales and use taxes. The bill has had four hearings in the House Ways and Means Committee but has not seen a vote.

In light of recent incidents, Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck last month launched a public awareness campaign urging gun owners to safely store their firearms.



Little Jared

On March 30 of last year, Jared shot himself in the head with a handgun that belonged to Benjamin Bishop, his mother’s boyfriend.

Little Jared was 3 years old and autistic and was mostly nonverbal, though he could say things like “banana,” “papa” and a garbled version of “I love you.”

Bishop left the gun unattended on a window ledge behind the bed in a bedroom he shared with Hailey Rodriguez, the boy’s mother. Rodriguez was pregnant with Bishop’s child at the time.

Bishop was taking Jared upstairs to go to bed when the boy ran ahead of him and went into the bedroom, grabbed his gun and shot himself.

Bishop, who was carrying a rifle at the time of the shooting, was indicted on charges of reckless homicide, child endangering and involuntary manslaughter. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Bishop’s attorney, Christopher Cloud, in a sentencing memorandum described the event as a horrible accident that was the worst decision of his client’s life.

“This incident is an unspeakable tragedy for Jared and his family,” says the memo, which requested the court to sentence Bishop to probation instead of prison. “Mr. Bishop never intended to cause nor expected to cause any harm to anyone.”

Bishop was sentenced to seven years in prison. The judge said Bishop’s actions were extremely “reckless” and he pointed out that Bishop had left another unsecured gun in the bedroom.

Hamilton police said they found a second loaded and unsecured handgun that belonged to Bishop under a bedside cabinet.

Prosecutors said other adult members of the household owned guns but they were locked up or kept well outside the reach of a child.

“The defendant knew (Jared’s) young age, his limitations with his autism, and that he had unfettered access to the bedroom where the firearm was located and could easily climb up the bed and reach the firearm. The defendant chose to leave multiple, loaded firearms within easy reach of this three-year-old child,” says a sentencing memo filed by Butler County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lindsay Sheehan. “The defendant also normalized ‘gun play’ around the child by showing off his rifle during dinner to his family the same night Little Jared shot himself, and even attempted to buy the child toy guns in the past. The defendant had multiple opportunities to remedy where he inexcusably and haphazardly left the firearm.”

Jared’s death was preventable and would not have happened had Bishop exercised due care when it came to handling a firearm, Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told the Dayton Daily News.

“In spite of all knowledge of the dangers and consequences of leaving a loaded firearm in the proximity of an unsupervised child, a former police officer who should have known better breached his duty of protection and allowed Jared to die as a result,” Gmoser said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Bishop deserved a longer prison sentence for what he did, said Michelle Rodriguez, Jared’s grandmother.

Hailey Rodriguez told Bishop when they first started dating that he had to lock up his firearms and she gave him a trigger lock, Michelle Rodriguez said.

Hailey told Bishop on March 30 that he needed to secure his firearm, Michelle Rodriguez said, and Bishop had multiple opportunities to put his gun away but did not do it.

Hamilton police detectives learned that Bishop underwent more than 730 hours of instruction to obtain his police academy certificate, and training topics covered included safe storage of firearms and firearm safety in the home, according to investigative documents obtained by this newspaper.

If Ohio had CAP laws, Bishop likely would have faced more serious legal penalties, which would have been warranted, Michelle Rodriguez said.

Twenty-six states have CAP laws, which penalize gun owners if children gain access to their firearms, according to Everytown Research & Policy, which advocates for tougher gun laws. Ohio is not one of them.

Michelle Rodriguez said she owns a gun and so do her husband and Hailey Rodriguez, but they all store them in safe places.

Hamilton police found Michelle Rodriguez’s gun in a case in a locked closet, and though it was loaded there was not a round in the chamber.

Hailey Rodriguez’s gun was found on a shelf in her closet and it was not loaded, a Hamilton police report states.

Michelle Rodriguez said after Jared’s death, someone likened Bishop’s actions to forgetting to turn off a light in a house.

She said she’s forgotten to turn off a light but, “I’ve never left my gun unattended (and unsecured). I’ve never left a bullet in the chamber.”

“If your gun is unattended and it gets into the hands of someone who causes harm to themselves or another, then you should go to prison as though you caused that harm,” she said.

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