Deadly Detroit snow day shooting: Grandmother in custody, warrant request submitted for grandson

13-year-old victim was captain of chess club

DETROIT – A grandmother is in custody and a 13-year-old boy is dead after four teenage boys were playing with gun on a snow day in Detroit.

Emarjae Watkins was an 8th-grade student at Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy. He was fatally shot Monday.

Watkins was the captain of the Detroit City Chess Club and volunteered to help less fortunate metro Detroit families.


A severe weather alert was declared and schools across southeast Michigan had their first snow day of the year.  Watkins spent his snow day playing video games with three boys at a home on Tireman Avenue.

Police said the three boys  -- ages 13, 14 and 15 --are grandchildren of the homeowner. The boys allegedly went upstairs to the grandmother’s bedroom and took a revolver. Police said the boys wanted to scare Watkins.

The gun went off and the bullet hit Watkins in the chest.

Authorities performed CPR at the scene, but Watkins was pronounced dead at Henry Ford Hospital.

“They were home from school because of the snow emergency” Detroit Police Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt said. “Initially it looks like the homeowner left a handgun unsecured in the upstairs bedroom.” 

The grandmother was taken into custody. The three grandsons were interviewed by police. It is unclear who was handling the gun when it went off, but a warrant request was submitted for the 13-year-old grandson.

According to investigators, the revolver didn’t have a trigger lock, but was unloaded and in a locked bedroom. Police said they believe the shooting is a result of a gun owner failing to properly secure her weapon in the home while she was at work. The grandmother is a postal service worker.

Assistant Chief Dolunt expressed his frustration with irresponsible gun owners:

READ: Detroit grandmother in custody after teen fatally shot while children play with her gun


Stay with Local 4 and as more information becomes available.