8-year-old allegedly shoots grandmother; deputies point to violent video game

Published: Aug. 24, 2013 at 1:43 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2013 at 1:43 AM CDT
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New Orleans, La.- Investigators say an 8-year-old boy intentionally shot his 90-year-old grandmother in the head Thursday night in East Feliciana Parish. The motive is still unknown, but deputies point out that the boy was playing the video game "Grand Theft Auto IV" minutes before the shooting.

The community of Slaughter is in shock after the boy was able to access the family's gun and shoot his grandmother, Marie Smothers, in the head while she was watching television. According to the sheriff's office, Smothers was the current caregiver of the boy.

"Where did she have the gun?" asked Johnnie Scott, a neighbor. "Where did he see the gun, was it in his eyesight? That's the thought that goes through my head."

The boy's access to the gun is what concerns LSU Health Sciences Center child psychologist Kristopher Kaliebe the most. However, he says, access to a violent video game such as "GTA4" may encourage aggressive behavior.

"From a behavior therapy perspective, I would say that's practicing," said Kaliebe. "So, if you have a video game where someone shoots at a target, that's sort of practicing shooting at a target. When you have a video game that is shooting at a human being, that is practicing shooting at a human being."

The game is rated "M" for mature audiences. It is recommended for ages 17 and older, but Dr. Kaliebe says such rating systems are rarely enforced by caretakers.

"In some ways it's a perverse incentive because a lot of the kids would sort of like the video games that are not for them," said Kaliebe.

Dr. Kaliebe says the games may have influenced individual violent crimes. However, while video game use is on the rise, certain crime statistics have been dropping. So, he says, making sure guns are locked is the most important thing, no matter how kids are spending their free time.