(CNN) — Hours after Kameron Prescott’s Christmas party at his Texas school, the 6-year-old boy was fatally shot when deputies opened fire on a suspected car thief, the local sheriff said.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar called Kameron’s death Thursday a “tragic accident.” No weapon was found after four deputies fired, also killing the suspect, Amanda Lene Jones, 30, whom they believed was armed, Salazar said.
A bullet pierced the wall of the mobile home where Kameron lived and lodged in his abdomen, Salazar told reporters.
Deputies discovered the wounded boy inside the home, carried him out and administered first aid, Salazar said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
“The deputies are, of course, understandably shaken up,” the sheriff said. “Officer-involved shootings are traumatic enough. Add to this the death of an innocent 6-year-old, and it’s that much more troubling.”
A dark-colored pipe with Jones’ blood on it was found near her body, Salazar said. The deputies, as well as witnesses who encountered the woman that day, said she threatened to shoot them. Investigators were still searching for a weapon.
The killing stunned the small community near San Antonio. First-grade teacher Shanda Ince told CNN affiliate KSAT she couldn’t help but wonder how the tragedy might have been averted.
“All I can think about right now is what could I have done differently,” she said, “had it not been a half day.”
‘A tragic accident’
The deputies who opened fire — identified as John Aguillon, George Herrera, Jesse Arias and Johnny Longoria, a reservist — have been placed on administrative leave, the sheriff’s office said. The local district attorney is investigating.
“Preliminarily, I can tell you it appears as if policies were complied with,” Salazar said of the shooting. “Right now, what I’m dealing with is a tragic accident that led to the death of this young man.”
Parts of the shooting were captured by a body camera worn by one deputy, Salazar said. But the view was obstructed when the deputy raised his rifle to fire.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Salazar said, “it’s pretty heartbreaking video for us to see.”
‘Kameron was a ball of energy’
Maria Morales, a counselor at Wiederstein Elementary School, described the slain boy as a kind soul.
“Kameron was a ball of energy, happy, smart and could strike up a conversation with anyone,” she said. “He also had a great sense of humor and caring heart. He’ll be truly missed.”
Ince called Kameron “the kindest-hearted little boy that I have ever had the pleasure of teaching.”
“He loved to make everyone laugh,” she said in a statement. “He will be missed by all of his classmates and everyone at Wiederstein.”
Suspect described as ‘desperate, maybe on drugs’
The incident began Thursday morning when a deputy responding to a report of a stolen vehicle spotted Jones with what he thought was a weapon, Salazar said.
Jones, on several occasions, “physically threatened him with that weapon and verbalized to him that she intended to shoot him with that weapon,” the sheriff said.
The suspect managed to get away, and deputies did not see her again until a couple of hours later, when she turned up at the mobile home park where Kameron lived, Salazar said.
She forced her way into Kameron’s home, threatened to shoot members of his family and said she was taking their vehicle, the sheriff said, adding that Jones had no apparent ties to the boy or his relatives.
When Jones left the home, the deputies were outside, waiting. Salazar said witnesses heard the woman threaten to shoot the law enforcement officers.
“Those deputies all report in their statements that she was holding an object in her hand they believed it to be a weapon at the time,” Salazar said.
‘He loved everybody’
Jones’ criminal history included at least 13 arrests on charges ranging from drug possession to burglary, KSAT reported.
Rhonda Campbell, who also lives in the Pecan Grove Mobile Home Park, told KSAT that Jones’ had kicked in her door that morning. She described Jones as “desperate, maybe on drugs.”
“She was standing right here, demanding my car keys,” Campbell told the station. “Well, it took me almost 30 years to get my dream car. She wasn’t about to get it.”
Ince, Kameron’s teacher, said she wondered what she could have done differently that morning.
“Kameron had the biggest heart of any boy I have ever come across,” she told KSAT. “He cared about everybody. He loved everybody. Not one day would go by where he would not hug me and tell me he loved me before he left.”
A fund was set up to help Kameron’s family with expenses, the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District said in a statement.