ENSLEY, Ala. (WIAT) — On Tuesday afternoon, between her two work shifts, Starcrease Pruitt stopped by her home in Ensley to check on her sons. Pruitt, a house cleaner and nurse, said she brought her 13-year-old, Jeremiah, a bag of his favorite chips: Takis.
That was the last time Starcrease Pruitt saw her son alive.
Just hours after his afternoon snack, Jeremiah Pruitt was dead, having suffered a gunshot wound that his mother said was accidentally inflicted by one of his younger twin brothers.
Pruitt blames herself for the accident. She said she’d recently sat down with Jeremiah to talk about staying home alone, two doors down from his grandmother’s house.
“I said ‘You’re 13 now, you’re a big boy,” Pruitt told CBS 42. “I’ll start teaching y’all how to stay home by yourselves.”
Pruitt also said she should not have allowed a close relative to keep a gun in her home.
She said that her sons found the weapon in a drawer and began playing with it.
At first, she said, none of the children pulled the trigger. But eventually, one of the 11-year-old twin boys accidentally discharged the gun, shooting Jeremiah in the chest.
Jeremiah’s last words, his mother said, were to his younger brother: “Why you shot me?”
Still at work at the time of the shooting, Pruitt said she answered the worst call a person can ever receive. Her mother was on the line, saying Jeremiah had been shot.
Pruitt raced to the hospital, but her son had died from his injuries.
Now, Pruitt said she has two burdens to bear.
“Now I’m trying to not only bury a son, but I’m trying to heal one from the pain.”
She said her 11-year-old son has been quiet since the accident and has had to be reminded of some important things.
“I had to remind him that I still love him and that this is not his fault,” she said.
Pruitt said Jeremiah was a happy kid. A seventh grader at Bessemer City Middle School, he had recently been chosen to be a running back on the football team. He was thrilled.
Jeremiah also loved basketball, his mother said, and always wanted to be at church on Sundays.
“He was the sweetest child you’ll ever meet,” she said.
The Pruitt family, though, will have to heal through the pain just days before the Christmas holiday.
“I want my son for Christmas,” Pruitt said.
Birmingham police said in a statement Wednesday that they are still investigating but that the incident has been “deemed accidental.”
Pruitt told CBS 42 that her family is having financial difficulty paying for Jeremiah’s funeral expenses. She asks that anyone willing to help with these costs can send donations via Cash App to $starcrease4kids