ROCKWOOD, Tenn. (TCD) -- A woman is facing murder and child abuse charges after she shot and killed a 4-year-old girl while she claimed she was teaching her about firearm safety.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced special agents are looking into the Aug. 27 death of 4-year-old Evangaline Gunter after the 9th Judicial District Attorney General Russell Johnson asked them to join the investigation. Law enforcement officials arrested 25-year-old Breanna Gayle Runions and booked her into the Roane County Jail, where she is being held on $1.5 million bond for murder and aggravated child abuse.
Johnson said in a recorded statement Runions could face 15 to 25 years in prison for aggravated child abuse and up to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 51 years for murder. According to Johnson, one of Evangaline's siblings witnessed the fatal shooting.
According to arrest warrants cited by WBIR-TV, Runions allegedly told investigators she put the gun to Evangaline's chest in order to show her how to safely use a gun, but then when she pulled the trigger, the gun went off. A 7-year-old and Runions' girlfriend who were in the room at the same time said Runions made Evangaline and the 7-year-old girl stand in the corner because the young girls ate her girlfriend's food. They also reportedly did not wake up Runions and her girlfriend.
WBIR reports Runions allegedly hit Evangaline and the 7-year-old with a sandal before sending them to corners of the room. Runions allegedly took out the magazine from the firearm, told Evangaline to approach her, and shot her. The girlfriend heard the gunshot, which sent the bullet through a glass, causing it to shatter near the other child.
Runions and her girlfriend drove Evangaline to a Walgreens parking lot, where they met paramedics, who transported her to a hospital. Evangaline was pronounced dead when she got to Roane Medical Center.
According to WBIR, Runions is best friends with Evangaline's mother. The mom told WBIR Runions was "helping me take care of my children while I can get a house underneath my feet, a car running, just so I can make it to and from work."
Evangaline died just days before her 5th birthday on Sept. 5, which will also be the same day as her funeral.