Crime & Courts

Father who killed 2-year-old daughter says gun misfired as he cleaned it

Two-year-old Heaven Miller died Thursday from what her father told deputies was a gun that misfired – just before her mother went into labor.

Richland County deputies are investigating the shooting of the toddler and her 4-year-old sister as accidental, Sheriff Leon Lott said. But evidence was still being compiled and analyzed Friday afternoon.

“Right now, it just looks like an accidental shooting,” Lott said. His office also is consulting with the 5th Circuit prosecutor’s office.

Deputies who answered the emergency call from the Meredith Square townhouse apartments said they laid the 2-year-old in the yard. They tried to keep her alive with chest compressions and by applying pressure to the wound until an ambulance arrived, according to a sheriff’s department incident report.

Heaven Miller was pronounced dead at 7:07 p.m. at Palmetto Health Richland hospital minutes after her arrival, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said. She died of complication from the gunshot, he said.

The unidentified 30-year-old father told deputies that he was cleaning his gun about 6:40 p.m. on the family’s porch when it misfired after he sat on it, according to the incident report and Lott.

The bullet that struck the toddlers in the upper body also grazed the father’s hand, according to the report and a news release. The 4-year-old required surgery, but her injury is not life threatening, Watts said.

The pregnant mother was at home when the shooting occurred and was taken to the hospital’s delivery room, deputies said. Her baby was not born, said Watts, whose office is involved in the case.