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11-year-old girl shoots her mother’s ex-boyfriend: Is she a hero?

When Brandy Moreno’s ex-boyfriend broke into her house in the middle of the night and began attacking her with a knife, help came from an unexpected source. Her daughter, 11-year-old Jayda Milsap, shot the man twice with a handgun, chasing him off and saving her mother’s life.

Neighbors, who heard shots fired in the middle of the night, are calling the girl a hero. This is dumbing the situation down in a major way. This isn’t a movie. It isn’t the Wild West. This little girl has to live the rest of her life with the trauma of having seen her mom get stabbed, of watching a wounded man stumble out of her home knowing she shot him.

Yes, it’s amazing that she had the presence of mind to pick up a gun and shoot her mother’s attacker. And it’s a relief that she was able to hit him and not hit her mother. But we shouldn’t be applauding a child for nearly killing another human being. We should be asking how on earth the child came to be in that situation in the first place.

Moreno lived with her ex-boyfriend, Leo Henry, until last week when she asked the Cleveland County District Court for a protective order against him. She says he allegedly mistreated three of the five children living in their household and she was afraid he would hurt her and her kids in retaliation over the police report.

Did this desperate mom have faith in the system to protect her? Probably not. According to neighbor Carolyn Marsee, Moreno showed her 11-year-old daughter how to use a handgun in response to the danger from Henry. This woman was afraid enough to show a child how to use a gun. This isn’t an acceptable way for families to have to deal with the threat of domestic violence.

Women who are afraid of their partners shouldn’t have to arm themselves and they certainly shouldn’t have to arm their children. When Moreno’s worst fears played out, her foresight likely saved her life. But this shouldn’t be perceived as any kind of solution to the domestic violence epidemic in our country. We don’t need to arm our children. We need to protect our children from the threat of violence in the home.

Jayda Milsap isn’t a hero. She’s a brave little girl who survived a horrific incident of domestic violence. She deserved so much more.

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