ST. LOUIS • The parents of a 12-year-old boy who was shot to death while home alone with his younger brother were charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter.
Damian Holmes, 12, and his brother, 9, were left home alone Tuesday night in the 3300 block of Michigan Avenue when they found a gun and started playing with it, police said.
A round struck Damian in the head about 10:35 p.m; police are not saying who fired the shot.
The boys’ father came home and took the 12-year-old to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Donnie L. Holmes, 41, was charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of marijuana possession.
The probable cause statement said Holmes and his wife, Yolanda Jackson, had left the boys home alone. A handgun and shotgun both were in the house, along with ammunition for both. The handgun was not secured, and the boys got to it.
Lab tests of substances that officers found in the house showed the presence of drugs, including amphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.
Donnie Holmes has previous convictions for drug possession in 1993, drug dealing in 1996 and failure to pay child support in 2009.
Jackson, 40, was charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter and two counts of child endangerment.
The shooting happened in St. Louis’ Benton Park West neighborhood.
A neighbor, Brenda Harger, 62, said the boys were often left alone.
“Most of the time they are there by themselves,” she said. “The mother would leave for work, and the dad would leave after she left.”
The boys would play basketball or football in their yard, Harger said. “They weren’t kids that run the street or anything,” she said.
Damian was a sixth-grade student at Monroe Elementary School in St. Louis. A spokesperson for the district said a crisis response team was at the school Wednesday for students and staff.
“A couple of weeks ago they helped me clean up the alley,” Harger said of the boys. “I gave them a pack of cookies. They were sweet little boys.”
This is the second fatal shooting of a child who was playing with a gun in just more than a month in St. Louis.
On Feb. 13, Mi’Kenzie Bostic, 6, was shot and killed by one of her three siblings in their apartment in Walnut Park West while her parents slept in the next room. Mi’Kenzie’s parents were later charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Joel Currier and Christine Byers of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this article.