Two cousins were live-streaming a birthday party on Instagram and playing with a gun when both of them were fatally shot, according to police in St. Louis.
Twelve-year-old Paris Harvey and her 14-year-old cousin Kuaron Harvey died of their injuries on Friday, police told local broadcaster KSDK.
The authorities have referred to the incident as a murder-suicide, but the Harvey family has described it as a "freak accident."
According to NBC News, police said they found a "victim and suspect" with "puncture wounds" when they arrived at the scene. Both children were pronounced dead shortly after the authorities showed up.
"We are sending our heartfelt condolences to the family of 12-year-old Paris Harvey and 14-year-old Kuaron Harvey who tragically passed away on 3/25/22," police wrote in a tribute post on social media.
According to family members, the two cousins were close and acted more like brother and sister, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Paris' mother Shinise Harvey, who did not witness the event but spoke to family members who had seen the Instagram video, told KSDK that her daughter "dropped the gun, and it fell, and it went off, to my knowledge."
"And then when she picked it up, she picked it up by the barrel, and it went off and that's all I know. It was not a suicide. It was just a freak accident," she said.
Paris' mother said she had allowed her daughter to go to the apartment where the incident occurred to celebrate recent family birthdays.
According to Harvey, the kids were just making videos on Instagram "and [Paris] was playing with the gun, but it went off and hit [Kauron]."
She said she didn't know whose gun it was or how Paris got ahold of it.
The incident was broadcast on Instagram, and now family members are pleading with people not to share the footage.
It was not immediately clear where the gun came from, and no charges had been announced as of Tuesday.
The investigation is still underway.