Grand Theft Auto IVWhat would you think about an 8-year-old from Louisiana shooting his 90-year-old caregiver in the back of the head? What would you say if the officers who are investigating think it was intentional?

An unnamed child was living with 90-year-old Marie Smothers, who has been identified as a “relative.” All indications are that there was no friction between the two and they even shared a bedroom. The child was living with Smothers, away from his parents, so he could qualify to attend East Feliciana Parish School.

WAFB reports:

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East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office officials say they believe an 8-year-old intentionally pulled the trigger and killed an elderly woman Thursday evening right after playing ‘Grand Theft Auto IV’. Although they believe it was an intentional crime, according to Louisiana law, the child will not be charged.

In what is now being called a homicide, the Sheriff’s Office says it happened at the Country Breeze mobile home park on LA 67 near Slaughter, LA just after 5 p.m.

Investigators said they found a woman with a gunshot wound to the head. She was pronounced dead at the scene. According to family members of the victim, her name was Marie Smothers. Smothers was 90 years old.

In a release from the Sheriff’s Office, it says although the child initially told investigators that he accidentally shot Smothers while playing with a firearm, the investigation has led them to believe the child intentionally shot her. Smothers was shot in the back of the head while she was in the living room watching television.

Grand Theft Auto IV? More on that in a moment. For starters we would have to wonder how in the world this boy was allowed to play with a loaded firearm, whether this was an accident or not.

In the State of Louisiana those who have not reached the age of 10 are exempt from criminal activity, but that does not mean that the boy could not spend time in a juvenile facility.

Let’s get back to Grand Theft Auto IV. I have never played it but I have a couple of friends that do and I can tell you that it is something that I would not let an 8-year-old watch, let alone play. In that regard I would have to say that it was a bad decision to let a child that young anywhere near that game.

But let’s see what the experts say. According to The Advocate:

Dr. Michael Welner, a New York forensic psychiatrist, said he has testified before Congress about how violent video games can influence behavior.

“When it comes to eliminating violence, culture matters,” said Welner, who has testified in many criminal trials, including several of the Angola 5 trials in West Feliciana Parish.

He said video game developers design games to be absorbing and life-like and that killing is portrayed in a banal manner.

“My professional opinion is that video game violence is enabling the expression of violent urges in ways that cocaine and the worst of drugs never did and never could,” Welner said

Welner said parents should stop paying for violent video games for kids and should “collect them and throw them out in the same way you would flush the drugs you find.”

He added, “Community investment needs to be directed toward getting children away from gaming platforms and back out on the ball fields, where they can be engaging recreation in ways that are more suitable for children.”

Christopher J. Ferguson, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology and teaches at Stetson University and has studied the positive and negative effects of playing violent video games, says there is no evidence violent video games cause people to kill.

“He’s kind of young for ‘Grand Theft Auto IV,’ but generally speaking, if you go into any house where there’s a teenager or even a kid a little younger, the odds of not finding a video game like this are almost zero,” Ferguson said.

The game is meant for mature audiences, “but in terms of it making him kill his (relative), no, probably not,” Ferguson said.

He added, “From a moral perspective, we might not want our kids to play a game that’s that mature. That’s kind of a moral statement. There’s no evidence of violent video games causing people to kill.”

Generally, police investigators who do not play video games seize on evidence of them to come up with some narrative to explain what happened, Ferguson said, stressing he is not referring directly to the East Feliciana investigation.

“It’s just a convenient narrative, but in terms of actual evidence that these video games cause people to become aggressive in this type of way, no, there’s none whatsoever,” Ferguson said, noting that while video games are very popular, youth violence is at its lowest level in four years.

So did a video game cause this kid to kill his relative? I want you to understand that they have not released the relationship but it could have been his grandmother or great-grandmother. What would make a kid do that?

My opinion is not something that you will hear from the highly paid shrinks. A graphic video game didn’t kill that woman any more than her 38-cal killed her but something caused that kid to lose it. We don’t know the mental state of this child to begin with. If he had behavior issues to begin with then that video game did not help.

For those of you who have never seen Grand Theft Auto IV, here is a rating and analysis from ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board):

Rated “M” for Mature.

Intense Violence, Blood, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Partial Nudity, Use of Drugs and Alcohol

Oh yeah, that’s the type of game I want my kids playing. I wouldn’t play it myself.

This is all about moral decay in society. The game is not responsible for the death. The game is just a symptom of a world that has gone a little crazy. I have no doubt that a lot of people enjoy playing this game and can handle it responsibly.

But with freedoms come responsibilities. If people are too brain-dead to see that this is inappropriate for a young child then I am not sure what is wrong with our society.

Adults making good decisions with gun safety and entertainment choices for an eight-year-old boy would have probably prevented this story from ever happening.

We like to say that guns don’t kill people. Bad people kill people.

In this case I think we might want to say that the above does not apply. God rest this woman’s soul and she lived a long and hopefully good life but this wasn’t really smart no matter how you look at it.

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What are people thinking out there? Not only did bad choices likely cost this woman her life but it probably scarred this child for life.

What do you think?

h/t Daily Mail