Local/State

Father arrested in toddler's death in Fayetteville

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fayetteville police arrested Melvin Andre Clark Jr. in the shooting death of his 2-year-old daughter Sunday.

Officers have charged 19-year-old Clark with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after Samarri Tyana Beauford was killed Saturday.

Police arrived at the 2600 block of Graham Road around 12:40 p.m. Saturday.

When officers arrived, they found Beauford suffering from a gunshot wound. She was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center where she later died.

Investigators say the child got a hold of a loaded .22 semi-automatic pistol that Clark left under the living room couch. The child's grandmother and aunt were reportedly inside the home at the time of the shooting.

Neighbor Byron Brown lives in the triplex where the single shot was fired and told ABC11 he last saw the child Thursday. He said she would come to play with his dog and run around the yard.

"What happened here is way beyond human imagination. It's beyond," said Brown.

Brown said he had just run out for errand when that fatal shot was fired. When he returned home, crime tape was up in the yard.

"I'm devastated and I'm hurt and I'm still in disbelief...for anybody's child you shouldn't have your weapons even within finger reach of where a child could even touch it, let alone look at it. So I'm blown away," said Brown.

"She had the sweetest personality. Just like any other baby, she was real warm hearted," he added.

The tragic accident is a disturbing reminder about the importance of gun safety.

ABC11 spoke to a firearms instructor at Jim's Pawn Shop, a popular local gun dealer, who said he preaches gun safety and children in his classes, and will use this incident to drive home an important message to parents.

"How many places did your mama hide your Christmas present, and you couldn't find them? They always find them, and they always get them. They've got to be under lock and key at all times. Either in a safe or put a gun lock on them. Secure the weapon at all times," said firearms instructor Ted Harris.

Harris also reminds folks that under a new state statue, any adult, not just parents or guardians, can be held negligent for a child injuring themselves in this type of situation.

Clark has a growing rap sheet with Cumberland County arrest records showing that he is a convicted felon with four breaking and entering charges from 2011 and larceny charges.

Clark could face a max of more than 10 years in prison if found guilty of both charges- involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Clark is currently being held at the Cumberland County Detention Center under a $50,000 secured bond and will appear in court, again, the first week of November.

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north carolina news, fayetteville news, shooting, local/state
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