A Virginia mother was arrested and charged with reckless handling of a firearm after she fired a warning shot to stop a boy from physically assaulting her 15-year-old daughter on Saturday night. One day later, the teenager went missing.
Lakisha Gaither, 35, told NBC Washington that her daughter, Brianna Stewart, 15, had been involved in an argument with a group of teens in their neighborhood in Woodbridge, Va., on Saturday. At one point, another teenage girl, apparently angry at Stewart, showed up to their home with two boys.
In an attempt to squash whatever feud was going on, Gaither reportedly went to speak with the other girl’s mother. However, when she arrived at the apartment complex, the same boys who had shown up at her home earlier that day were there as well. The mother claims one of the boys proceeded to punch her daughter in the face repeatedly.
“He punched her in the left eye, knocking the eyeglass lens out of her glasses, into her face,” Gaither recalled.
Desperate to put an end to the attack, the mother, who open carries “everywhere” she goes, pulled out her firearm and fired a warning shot in the air to get the boy off of her child.
“Because I do open carry, because I’m a registered gun owner and I open carry everywhere I go, I walked out to the middle of the parking lot where I was away from everybody, not near anybody, the not near the buildings or anything, and I unholstered my weapon, held it straight up in the air and shot straight in the air, one shot, to get him off of my child and to break this group up,” Gaither told NBC Washington.
When police arrived, they arrested and charged her with a misdemeanor charge of reckless handling of a firearm. The report did not mention any of the boys being charged with assault.
Hours after the incident and after Gaither was released from jail, the mother said she feared for her daughter’s life. She sent Stewart to stay with her grandmother for the night. “I just wanted the situation to calm down. I didn’t want them retaliating,” Gaither said.
At around 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, Gaither said her mother called her and informed her that Stewart was missing. The teenager hasn’t been seen or heard from since Sunday morning, leaving her mother terrified.
“I don’t know if she’s OK; I don’t know if she’s safe; I don’t know if she’s hurt,” she said, tears filling her eyes. “There’s been no activity on her Facebook.”
“Stewart is 5’9″, weighs 160 pounds and has dimples on her cheeks,” the report notes.