No charges filed in ‘catastrophic accident’ killing 3-year-old on Christmas Day

Aylee Gordon died from gunshot wound in Henderson County
Officials say it was a "terrible decision" to store a loaded gun where it was accessible to a three-year-old, but in this case it did not violate any laws.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 10:30 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2022 at 10:35 AM EDT
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HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (FOX Carolina) - The District Attorney for Henderson County announced on Tuesday that no charges will be filed in the shooting accident that claimed the life of a young girl on Christmas Day in 2021.

Aylee Gordon, 3 years old, was celebrating Christmas with her family just before the incident. She received a new bicycle for Christmas and her brother received a hoverboard.

The family’s home on Spicer Cove Road had a gravel driveway that was not suitable for the children to play with their new toys, so they climbed in a truck belonging to the children’s half-brother who was visiting from Georgia for the holiday.

The family drove to a paved road nearby so Aylee and her 6-year-old brother could play.

After about an hour, investigators said Aylee had an accident and her mother decided to take her back to the house to change while the rest of the family stayed outside to play.

Investigators said Aylee’s 28-year-old half-brother had a holstered firearm he placed in the truck’s passenger door storage slot earlier in the day, believing the children would only be riding in the backseat of the truck.

When Aylee’s mother took her back to the house, investigators say she put Aylee in the front passenger seat - unaware a gun was being stored in the door’s storage slot. While the mother was loading the family’s dog in the back of the truck, the family heard the gun go off.

According to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Aylee picked up the Glock 9mm pistol and accidentally discharged it while handling it, suffering a gunshot wound to the head. She was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville where she underwent surgery but never regained consciousness.

Aylee was pronounced brain dead on Dec. 28, 2021.

District Attorney Andrew Murray said after reviewing the evidence he is “completely convinced” the shooting was a terrible accident.

Murray said Aylee’s parents were completely unaware the gun was stored in the vehicle, so they cannot be held criminally responsible. Murray said North Carolina statutes for unlawful storage of a firearm where it can be accessed by a child only apply to someone who lives in the same home as the child, so Aylee’s half-brother cannot be held criminally responsible.

“I have determined that the death of Aylee Gordon was a catastrophic accident,” Murray said. “There is no doubt that [her half-brother] made a terrible decision when he stored a loaded gun in a place where a child could find it, however, no North Carolina criminal laws were violated.”

Aylee’s parents also did not wish for her half-brother to face charges.

“I can conceive of no criminal punishment that could come close to the lifetime of anguish caused by losing a loved one as a result of one’s own actions,” Murray said. “I cannot conceive of a more terrible accidental death than the loss of a loved one on the date we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. There is no doubt that the vibrant and precious innocent life of Aylee Gordon ended far too short.”

Murray notified the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and the SBI that their cases should be closed without further action.