A grieving mother of a 17-year-old girl who was shot dead in the passenger seat of a car said that the gun may have fired accidentally when the gunman was fooling around with the weapon. Shantasia O’Brain was a day to being 18 years old when she was shot in the back by her boyfriend’s 15-year-old brother who was playing with a gun.
The aspiring pharmacist from Queens was a freshman at the Stony Brook University on Long Island, where her family picked her up last week so they could celebrate the teen’s birthday at a Bronx seafood house Friday night on September, 2. On Sunday, Shantasia’s family gathered at the home she grew up in, where instead of holding a barbecue or celebration, they struggled to understand her death.
Shantasia was home for the weekend to celebrate her 18th birthday. She texted her mother and asked if she could go to the park with a few friends, but promised she’d be back in time to get ready for the celebration. She met her boyfriend and her 15-year-old younger brother in his car. “The boyfriend’s brother was tinkering with a gun in the backseat, and the weapon went off around 5 pm piercing the back of the passenger seat Shantasia was in,” police said. After firing the shot, the brother got out of the car, tossed the gun and got back inside, cops said. Karen O’Brian received a call about 12 minutes later from a man, who she presumed was the new boyfriend she had not yet met. “He said, ‘Shantasia’s been shot’ and then hung up,” O’Brian said.
“The alleged shooter was the younger brother of the victim’s boyfriend, who was in the driver’s seat during the deadly incident,” O’Brian said. “I don’t know what he was doing with a gun. It doesn’t make any sense, why do you have to play with a gun?” “And he was there with a gun and he shot her,” O’Brian said of the teen shooter. “The officer told me he was playing with the gun and it was an accident. It was an accident, but I lost my child and she can’t come back.” Police took two people into custody for questioning and ultimately charged the younger brother with manslaughter, weapon possession and tampering with physical evidence. His name was not released by police because he’s a juvenile.
When she received a phone call from Shantasia’s cell phone shortly after 5 pm instead of her daughter, it was the teen’s boyfriend O’Brian didn’t know she had. “He said, ‘Shanny’s been shot.’ I started screaming. I said, ‘Who’s this?’ and he wouldn’t say who he was,” O’Brian recalled. “He said, ‘They’re taking her to the hospital.’ I said, ‘What hospital? What hospital?’ And he said, ‘When we find out we’ll let you know.’” The distraught mom repeatedly called back until someone finally picked up. This time, it was a lady police officer who said, “Medics rushed Shantasia to Jamaica Hospital, but she could not be saved.” Shantasia was rushed to Jamaica hospital via EMS where she was pronounced dead just before 6 pm. The aspiring pharmacist was excited about college, O’Brian said. Since elementary school, she never got into trouble and was a straight-A student. “So this really hurts me that that’s just it. That’s it? Shanny’s just gone and that’s just it? I can’t accept that. I don’t think it’s fair to her, either,” O’Brian said. “This boy doesn’t know how many lives he ruined. My heart is in shambles.” Shantasia leaves behind three siblings, including her baby sister who asked her mother why doctors couldn’t give her big sister a new heart to live. “I tell her, ‘It doesn’t work that way.’ She said, “‘Mom, I’m never going to see her again?’ I said, ‘No, Shanny’s gone. She’s gone.’”