A Pennsylvania man has been arrested after authorities say a shotgun he had been keeping under his pillow went off and killed a 3-year-old girl sleeping in the bed beside him.
Marlin Pritchard, 51, has now been charged with homicide, endangering the welfare of a child and gun-related charges in the young girl’s death early Sunday morning, according to a statement from the City of Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Department.
Pritchard told police he had been sleeping beside the 3-year-old and another child when he “woke up to the sound of bang” and saw one of the children jump off the bed and run away, according to an affidavit in the case obtained by Oxygen.com.
The victim has been identified by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office as Chassity Clancy, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Pritchard saw blood on Clancy and picked her up, telling her to “wake up” as he held her but the 3-year-old had been shot in the neck and had blood coming from her mouth, according to the affidavit. She was later pronounced dead by authorities.
Chris Togneri, public information officer for the City of Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Department, told Oxygen.com that Pritchard was not related to the girl and that the adults in the home had been babysitting her at the time of the shooting.
Pritchard told police that he was keeping the gun under his pillow because people were “after him” and that some of his contracting clients had gone to his home Saturday morning to threaten him, according to the affidavit.
He had decided to lay down in the bed with the children, who were watching movies, after he returned home from a construction job between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. that night.
He told police he had been laying on the left side of the bed, while the two children were laying on the right side of the bed. The gun had been pointed toward the children, the affidavit said.
After the shooting, Pritchard allegedly took the gun out of the home and put it next to some tires but later told police where it was located after they arrived around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday.
“What do you want, man?” Pritchard told detectives toward the end of their interview, according to the affidavit. “This is my fault.”
The victim’s family is now left grieving the loss of the vibrant 3-year-old.
“She was an angel to everybody,” her cousin George Logan told KDKA. “When you see her, it was like ‘Oh my gosh, who is this baby with fuzzy socks, tulle pants, and beads with tulle in her hair.’”
Logan also served as the pastor at Clancy’s church and remembered that he often had to hold her while he preached to keep her quiet.
“I just don’t know what to say,” Logan said. “Chassity was our baby. It was a traumatic loss, a shocking loss, but God is good and God is going to see us through it all.”
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.