A 5-year-old New Zealand boy has been shot dead while
fighting over a gun with his cousin in Samoa.
The child, named as James, was visiting family on the island
with his mother for White Sunday, a Samoan holiday
celebrating children that was held on October 14.
Local media reported the boy's 8-year-old cousin had been in
police custody since the incident - in the village of
Samamea, on the north east coast of Samoa's Upolu island,
44km from Apia - on Wednesday night.
The cousin's father, Pita Leausa, said his brother, Ieti
Leausa, took his son and his nephew to shoot pigeons and
collect coconuts for dinner.
He left his loaded gun under a tree while he was looking for
leaves and sticks to help carry the coconuts.
"My brother turned away for less than a minute then the next
minute he heard a gunshot," Pita Leausa told the Weekend
"The children were fighting over the gun when it happened."
James was shot in the face and died at the scene.
Ieti Leausa carried his nephew's body home, and was taken by
police for questioning with the 8-year-old.
The Observer reported the boy could be charged with murder.
His mother, Pafuti Pita, burst into tears when asked how the
family was coping. "He didn't mean to hurt anyone," she said.
The dead boy was the eldest of three children. Local
television reported his mother was Samoan and his father a
Samoan resident Lili'a Va'alele told the Herald last night
the story had made headlines across the country.
The uncle heard a bang, then saw the boy lying on the ground,
"He said he thought he hadn't been hit ... but the boy was