FLAGLER COUNTY, FL- Late on Sunday of the Labor Day weekend, Florida deputies responded to a distressing 911 call reporting a fatal shooting of a baby girl at a residence. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the incident occurred just before midnight at a rental property on 2 Ranwood Lane in Palm Coast. Eight adults were reportedly present at the time of the shooting.
Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly expressed his condolences to the family and friends of the young victim. He assured the community that there was no ongoing threat, as the incident was confined to the residence and all individuals involved had been identified. The Sheriff’s Office, in collaboration with the State Attorney’s Office Homicide Investigation Unit, is investigating the case.
The 911 caller reported that an 18-month-old girl had been shot in the head. Despite immediate medical attention, the child was pronounced dead at the hospital. As of the initial press release, no allegations of criminal activity had been made, and no arrests had been carried out. Authorities suggested the possibility that the shooting was accidental.
The Major Case Unit detectives are actively gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Crime Scene Investigators are assisting in the ongoing investigation. Sheriff Staly provided further details on Monday afternoon, announcing the arrest of C.J. Nelson Jr., a 21-year-old with a previous firearm-related offense, on a probation violation. Nelson is considered a person of interest in the shooting, although he has not been charged in connection with the child’s death.
The Sheriff referred to Florida’s criminal culpable negligence statute and manslaughter when discussing potential charges. It remains unclear whether Nelson is related to the child. The statute stipulates that an accidental shooting by a family member of a minor must be investigated for at least a week before any arrest can be made in direct connection with the shooting.
While Nelson has been detained for allegedly violating his probation, Sheriff Staly did not rule out the potential culpability of other adults present in the home. He expressed frustration at the lack of transparency from the adults, including the child’s biological mother. The child’s biological father was not present at the scene.
The Sheriff confirmed that the child did not handle the firearm, identified as an “American Tactical multi-caliber assault pistol.” He also revealed that the residence had been the subject of 13 police calls since 2010, including a stolen vehicle report and a 911 investigation in 2023. Cannabis and a “white powdery substance,” suspected to be cocaine or heroin, were found in the home. However, the Sheriff clarified that the shooting is not considered drug-related at this stage.